San Diego Veterans Magazine September 2021

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Vol. 3 Number 9 • September 2021




Ride for the Brave Connecting Veterans One Mile at a Time San Diego

Fair Winds and Following Seas to an American Hero

Veteran of the Month Drone Pilot Training



9/11 ALWAYS REMEMBER Suicide Prevention - You Matter



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It’s Our Turn to

SERVE YOU Proudly Serving Veterans From Every Military Branch Join a credit union that knows what it means to serve. On average, our members earn and save $352* per year by banking with us. Visit to join. Insured by NCUA. *Dollar value shown represents the results of the 2020 Navy Federal Member Giveback Study. The Member Giveback Study is an internal comparative market analysis of Navy Federal’s loan and deposit account rates as compared to the national average for similar products. © 2021 Navy Federal NFCU 13971-F (4-21)




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



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Golf Tournament - Friday, November 5, 2021 at Singing Hills Golf Resort

5/10k Trail Run - Saturday, November 6, 2021 at Sycuan Casino Resort

For more information and to register for the Golf Tournament & Run go to Walk for the Fallen aims to honor American veterans while raising awareness about the struggles they often face after serving, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Suicide. Walk for the Fallen has partnered with Sycuan Casino Resort and proceeds will benefit Veterans Association of North County, and All Star Vets,

Your Support Makes A Difference!

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Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater

A Vision for Miramar National Cemetery More than 20,000 veterans and their loved ones are interred at Miramar National Cemetery. The Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation holds services in the Flag Assembly Area on Memorial Day weekend and on Veterans Day to honor our veterans. The Flag Assembly Area has no permanent seating. The Support Foundation plans to build the Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater with permanent guest seating in a beautifully landscaped setting. This will be the Support Foundation’s biggest project yet. Its cost—for construction and permanent maintenance—is estimated at $600,000 Contributions from corporations, veterans groups, civic organizations, local government, and the public are needed to make this vision reality at Miramar National Cemetery.

Please Contribute Today! Make the Vision a Reality

Armed Forces Memorial Amphitheater Any contribution amount counts!

To donate, please go to and Click on “Donate Now” or by check to Amphitheater Fund, c/o 2500 6th Ave., Unit 803, San Diego, CA 92103 The Support Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations are tax deductible. Tax ID #65-1277308. You will receive an acknowledgment for your contribution. / SEPTEMBER 2021




Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller

Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner Veteran Advocate

RanDee McLain, LCSW A Different Lens

Jenny Lynne Stroup Real Talk: Mental Health

Vicki Garcia

Enlisted to Entrepreneur

CJ Machado

SD Vets & Homeland Photojournalist

Kelly Bagla, Esq. Legal Eagle

Tana Landau, Esq. Legally Speaking Greetings and a warm welcome to San Diego Veterans Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. The Magazine focuses on San Diego resources, support, community, and inspiration for our veterans and the military families that keep it together.

Joe Molina

Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Eve Nasby

What’s Next - Transitioning

Amber Robinson Arts & Healing

Eva Stimson Veteran Advocate

Paul Falcone

Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians.

Human Resources

The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of San Diego veteran organizations, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more.

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

We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. San Diego Veterans Magazine is a veterans magazine for veterans by veterans. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of San Diego Veterans Magazine.

Mike Miller Editor-In-Chief 6 / SEPTEMBER 2021

David Koontz Midway Magic

(858) 275-4281 Contact us at: San Diego Veterans Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved.


Photo by: U.S. Navy Photo/Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres


8 Veteran of the Month (Jude Litzenberger) 10 Midway Magic - Not Forgotten 12 An American Hero (Stu Hedley) 15 Operation Dress Code 16 Challenged Athletes Foundation 19 Ride for the Brave 22 9/11 Always Remember 26 Real Talk: Suicide Prevention - You Matter 28 LENS: Words Matter 30 The Healing Light 34 Preventing Tragedy 36 What’s Next: Master Your Transition 38 Drone Pilot Training 40 HR - The Future of Workplace Ethics 42 Enlisted to Entrepreneur: Your Exit Strategy 44 Start A Business with Little or No Money 46 Legal Eagle - Details Matter 48 Healthcare Careers - A Perfect Fit 50 Legally Speaking - Mind Over matter 58 SDVC - Red Cross of San Diego 60 VANC - Announcements / SEPTEMBER 2021


VETERan of the month San Diego - September 2021 By Amber Robinson

Jude Litzenberger U.S. Navy Veteran Retired If I had to choose one word to describe Navy veteran and this month’s Veteran of the Month, Jude Lirtzenberger, it would have to be “pioneer”. From helping to implement female integration onto all-male ships during her Navy service to creating a legal program for military and veterans, she doesn’t mind traversing unknown territory if it will help out a fellow service member. Litzenberger joined the Navy at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 as an enlisted sailor. After four years of service Jude planned to get out.. But a recruiter told her that general unrestricted line officers were being used to work with ships that were getting women for the first time. The Navy needed people to go and meet with these crews and explain to them what women could do and what new protocol would look like with women aboard. He assured her he could get her a slot in officer’s school. Litzenberger had recently earned her Master’s in Organizational Psychology and knew she definitely qualified for the mission. She saw it as an opportunity even though she said the sailors at that time were adamantly against women on ships. “They didn’t want women on their ships. It was a man’s Navy and they would face to face tell you that,” said Litzenberber. The rest of Litzenberger’s career rotated between managing training schools and communications commands. She retired in 1995 after 21 years of service to the U.S. Navy. Although she already had a Master’s degree, Litzenberger got out and signed up promptly for law school to study criminal law.

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Originally leaning towards labor law, Litzenberger instead fell in love with the work that criminal defense lawyers did. Working with mostly public defenders throughout her law school career, she was able to learn just how important their work was. As Litzenberger entered the workforce after school she found a particular need for veteran representation. She worked through a solo practice representing military personnel and veterans, standing in on various military administrative boards, taking on court martials or veteran criminal cases. “If local soldiers, sailors or airmen got in trouble in town I would take on their cases,” said Litzenberger. In 2007 Litzenberger provided legal counsel with members of the Public Defense to veterans attending Stand Down. After the event she and several of her cohorts discussed the need to provide a legal “safety net” for post 9/11 veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She and several other veteran movers and shakers then worked to form what they called the Returning Veterans Legal Task Force. “We had about 60 different community members and other organizations that would meet once a month at Jimmy Carter’s Cafe to discuss how we could build that safety net,” said Litzenberger. She and those involved had seen first hand the issues Vietnam Veterans faced when returning home. “About 43 percent of people who went to Vietnam went to jail within 13 years of coming home,” said Litzenberger. “We wanted to avoid that. We just wanted to do it better.” She and the group worked for almost four years to create a type of veterans court which they eventually called the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar.

Litzenberger became team leader of the program, responsible for evaluation of the program, keeping all data and keeping the team and incoming team members informed and trained. Within the first three years of the program, she said she found “open ears” within the California legislation on how she and her program wanted to handle veteran cases. Therefore they were able to expand the program so she had legal basis to get veterans rights back after hitting legal snags. What developed was a program veterans would complete to address the underlying problems that pushed them towards common criminal activities such as drinking incidents, fights or domestic violence. ‘The most prominent offense was obviously a DUI,” said Litzenberger. “They would drink to forget about their dead buddies or the memories of getting shot at.” What Litzenberger knew was veterans who received an offense due to PTSD who did not receive treatment would, almost without fail, receive another offense within six months. She was able to take this data to the legislature and make a plea for a law to be passed that would erase DUI offenses from a veteran’s record if they went through the program. “I told them that the safety of the public at large was of issue,” said Litzenberger. “You don’t want these guys out there drinking and driving, putting their or other people’s lives in jeopardy.”

She convinced the legislature to amend an already existing law, Penal Code 1170.9. The law allowed a judge to refer a veteran to a treatment program. With Jude’s persuasion, the law now allowed the judge to erase the service member’s offenses from their record after the completion of the court appointed program. Veterans who entered the program were followed for an average of 20 months as they completed psychological and alcohol treatment for their respective offenses. If they completed the program then their offenses would be erased. This would help them in various ways, from retaining their place in service to getting a job after service. The program has been an overwhelming success. “We have had a zero percent recidivism rate in that program for ten years,” said Litzenberger. On top of the amazing work she has done through this program, Litzenberger provides services through a legal clinic for vets. She advises veterans who are unable to afford a lawyer or helps them find one at a reduced or pro bono rate. She has done similar work through her own nonprofit California Veterans Legal Task Force and is also a member of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Club, a collection of the best lawyers in San Diego. Litzenberger has worked tirelessly to help veterans in the San Diego community since attaining her law degree post service. She allocates her passion, drive and vision to her faith.

“I have been truly blessed to do the work I do,” said Litzenberger. “What our men and women in uniform do for our country inspires me to do what I do.”

Nico working with Navy veteran Ann Marie O’Quinn / SEPTEMBER 2021


NOT FORGOTTEN Third Friday of September is POW/MIA Recognition Day By August 1972, there were few naval aviators with more warfare experience over the skies of North Vietnam than Lt. Jack Ensch. With nearly four deployments to Yankee Station under his belt, Ensch, a radar intercept officer in the Navy’s F-4 Phantom, had flown more than 280 combat missions over enemy territory. A few months earlier, he was credited with shooting down two MiG-17s in a fierce dogfight. Jack Ensch had the Right Stuff. Ensch’s 285th mission was scheduled to be a combat air patrol (CAP) in support of air strikes on military and industrial complexes near Hanoi. Launching from the USS Midway with his pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Doyle, Ensch knew being shot down was always a possibility, but he never let it interfere with his assignments. “This being my fourth combat deployment, the thought of being shot down did, at times, creep into my mind,” said Ensch, who was a member of Fighter Squadron 161 (VF-161). “You just had to compartmentalize such thoughts and get on with flying your missions.” Shortly after crossing the shoreline into North Vietnam, Ensch and Doyle came under fire from a number of surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites. They successfully dodged several missiles, but one they didn’t see exploded over their plane’s cockpit.

Lt. Jack Ensch

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“Needless to say we never made it to our CAP station,” recalled Ensch. “I ejected both of us from the aircraft. I survived. Mike didn’t.” On Aug. 25, 1972, Jack Ensch became a prisoner of war (POW). He would spend more than seven months in two military prison camps, the Hanoi Hilton and the Zoo, before being repatriated the following year. NO ONE LEFT BEHIND For more than half a century, a driving force behind the relentless search for unreturned Americans listed as captured, missing or killed in action/body not returned in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia has been the National League of POW/MIA Families. Established in 1970, this small nonprofit organization is singularly focused on obtaining the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for those missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died during the Vietnam War. “There is no other organization like the National League of POW/MIA Families,” said Ann Mills-Griffiths, the League’s chairman of the board and CEO. “It really is because of post-Vietnam War determination of the impacted families and supportive veterans that today’s state-of-the-art Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exists. It all stemmed from the League’s determination to press for answers to uncertainty that today’s admirable and capable accounting efforts exists.” Mills-Griffiths has been at the helm of the League for more than 40 years and knows firsth and the pain of loss during the Vietnam War. Her brother, Lt. James Mills, also a radar intercept officer in the F-4 Phantom, disappeared in September 1966 when his aircraft didn’t return from a nighttime combat mission over North Vietnam.

FINDING STRENGTH For Ensch, as well as all other POWs, each day in captivity was fraught with uncertainty as well as continual physical and psychological anguish. “I drew my strength to endure the POW experience from several sources,” said Ensch, who was in the last group of POWs to be released on March 29, 1973. “My faith, my love of country, my desire to be reunited with my family, and the support of my fellow POWs. All those things combined helped me return with honor, which was the motto of our entire POW organization.” Between February and April 1973, 591 American POWs were released from North Vietnamese prisons and returned to the United States. “It was a mixed feeling of joy and relief that it was over,” reflected Ensch. “There was also the surreal feeling of ‘is this really happening?’” The remains of Ensch’s pilot, Mike Doyle, weren’t returned to the United States until 1986. GETTING CLOSURE Mills-Griffiths needed to wait for than more than 50 years to learn the fate of her brother. “Our family never expected to know what actually happened to my brother,” said Mills. “In our case, a miracle occurred when Vietnamese fisherman snagged his net on underwater wreckage which was eventually determined to be the F-4 in which my brother disappeared.” Multiple recovery efforts in the years following the aircraft’s discovery ultimately found fragmentary remains, but it wasn’t until 2018, that some of those remains were positively identified as James Mills. “They came to tell me in my office,” said Mills-Griffiths. “I was astounded. There were no tears. It was joy, totally.” Both Mills’ and Doyle’s remains were buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. ALWAYS REMEMBER While Ensch continues to share his experiences with visitors to the USS Midway Museum as one of the ship’s volunteer docents, Mills continues to fight to find those lost during the Vietnam War and bring them home. “I pray America will never forget those listed as missing in action,” said Ensch. There are still 1,584 Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. / SEPTEMBER 2021


Stuart Noble Hedley Chief Petty Officer U.S. Navy Retired October 21, 1921 - August 4, 2021

Photo by Zach Coco

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Fair Winds and Following Seas to an American Hero By Holly Shaffner Every month WWII Veteran and Pearl Harbor Survivor Stu Hedley opened his San Diego Veterans Magazine like he was opening a gift on Christmas Day. This month will be different. Chief Petty Officer U.S. Navy retired Electrician’s Mate Stuart Noble Hedley died from COVID-related illnesses in August. He was given a memorial service fit for a hero. The service was held on the flight deck of the USS Midway, a ship he visited often and felt connected to since he served in the Battle of the Midway. Close to 400 people attended in person and 200+ more people viewed the celebration of life via livestream. He was given full military honors with gun salutes and bugler playing taps, a four-plane missing man formation flyover, two-bell ceremony, his family received his American Flag that flew over the USS Pearl Harbor, local organizations spoke about his service after the military, and a beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow” was played Hawaiian style with a ukulele. There was a display of his iconic Pearl Harbor jacket and hat, and his Pearl Harbor artifacts and memorabilia. At 99-years-young, Hedley led a very active and full life. He was looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday in October and going to Hawaii for the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks in December. He will be missed by his family, friends, fellow veterans, and San Diego community. It is estimated that he shared his WWII and Pearl Harbor story with more than 200,000 people – stories you cannot find in history books. His legacy will be defined by educating hundreds of thousands of people about WWII, but also by his character - he never met a stranger, never said a negative word about anyone, accepted everyone, and did it with a bear hug and an infectious smile. His final words to the thousands of students he spoke to were, “Stay in School!” “Learn to Love One Another” “Keep America Alert” and “Freedom is Not Free - Our freedom could be lost in one generation.” Wise words from a man who gave over 20 years to his country, survived 13 combat engagements, and swam through fire and flames to get to shore on Dec. 7th, 1941.

Photo by Zach Coco Photos by: Teri Simas

God Bless Stu and may this hero Rest in Peace. To view the full Celebration of Life video, go to: Stu was our Veteran of the Month in December 2019 and was featured on the cover. To read his full Pearl Harbor story, go to: / SEPTEMBER 2021


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Challenged Athletes Foundation Operation Rebound CAF Operation Rebound provides grants year-around to active duty service members, honorably discharged veterans and first responders with permanent physical injuries for sports equipment, competition and training expenses in the sport or recreational activity of their own choosing. This unique support model is effective in improving both physical and psychological well-being as it allows veterans and first responders to determine their own course towards healing and, in so doing, promotes independence in other aspects of their lives. The program supports nationwide and does not restrict support based upon geography, time of year or type of sport in which an individual chooses to engage. Since 2005, the program has supported over 3,000 individuals experience the healing power of sports. The U.S. cares for 9.1 million veterans at a medical cost of $69 billion per year. Approximately 78% of these veterans are overweight or obese, the annual care for whom costs over $2.6 billion; a cost that is entirely preventable. Of the veterans receiving VA care over 90,000 have permanent physical injuries. Many of whom are at greater risk of becoming obese due to a lack of physical activity. This lack of activity contributes to a higher prevalence of chronic disease risk among veterans with disabilities. Fitness programs help veterans become healthy and make them feel that they are a member of a team again. However, barriers, primarily economic, can prevent many from engaging. Sports equipment, travel and training can be cost-prohibitive for veterans. Without financial support many disabled veterans are left on the sidelines, unable to engage in activities that are proven cost-effective interventions for addressing the obesity epidemic. With proper support, veterans can thrive as demonstrated by the following testimonial:

“My family and I have been hiking almost every day. I have been able to see trails I’ve never been able to make it too without the off-road chair. Hiking has quickly become a family favorite outing. My boys wake in the morning and say, where can we take Mama today. Once again thank you so much for my chair. It has been the best gift for my entire family. We are all very grateful.” -Ixchel Pirlo, U.S. Army Veteran 16 / SEPTEMBER 2021

Closing the fitness gap between disabled veterans and their able-bodied peers leads to more equitable health outcomes, less dependence on the healthcare system and more community engagement among disabled veterans. Many CAF Operation Rebound athletes are active duty, military retirees and first responders. They were in top physical shape upon entering the service and often times, in an instant, faced the life- altering challenge. Their motivates them to face their injury as a challenge to overcome instead of a life-limiting disability. Through participation in sports, they demonstrate to others and prove to themselves that they not only have the ability to overcome their challenges, but to excel in a sport that they thought they would never be able to participate in again. Wether participating in a local recreational league or competing at international competition, CAF Operation Rebound provides the resources necessary to reach their sporting goals. The Operation Rebound motto is Frontline to Finish Line.” The motto underlines the program’s importance, embodying the ethos of both independence and team work.

One such athlete who embodies the ethos of the Operation Rebound program is Captain Eric McElvenny, USMC (ret.) Eric excelled in both baseball and football throughout high school and went on to major in Mechanical Engineering at the U.S Naval Academy. He carried on his love for sports as a member of the Naval Academy Rugby team. Following graduation and Marine Corps training, Eric deployed three times to the Middle East. On this third deployment to Afghanistan, Eric was working with Afghan soldiers and stepped on an IED in December 2011, suffering the loss of his right leg below the knee in the explosion. It was difficult for Eric to leave his fellow marines behind and return early from deployment, but after a few months of physical therapy, Eric is back in action - this time in the world of triathlon.


With the support of the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound program, Eric raced in his first two triathlons just 6 months after taking his first post-injury steps. Eric hopes to “inspire and motivate others, disabled or able bodied, athletes or not, to get out there, be active, accomplish goals, overcome adversities, build confidence and enjoy life”. In 2021, Eric earned a spot on the U.S. Para-Triathlon team, and is one of 10 CAF Operation Rebound athletes representing our country at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Eric has not only become an elite athlete in his own right but a mentor for others. “I hope to give back to others as much as Operation Rebound has given to me.”, said Eric, summing up his selfless focus on helping others to adapt to and overcome their own challenges in pursuit of self-improvement.

CAF’s Operation Rebound® program strengthens the mental and physical well-being of veterans, military personnel, and first responders with permanent physical injuries by providing them opportunities to use sports and fitness to reintegrate into our communities and by empowering them through sports. Through Operation Rebound-specific grant requests and sport clinics, CAF is there to support our service members from Frontline to Finish Line. Learn more at

For more information visit or contact / SEPTEMBER 2021


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RIDE FOR THE BRAVE Connecting Veterans One Mile at a Time

The Ride for the Brave was borne out of tragedy in the summer of 2020 when US Navy veteran, David White (48), killed himself. Dave’s death moved his high school friend and U.S. Marine, Major Scott Huesing, USMC (Ret) (51), to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle across the United States — and back. The ride has since grown into a unifying event — connecting thousands of veterans and inspiring countless more across the country. SD Veterans Magazine caught up with Huesing at his ranch in Temecula, CA, to find out what drives him to get on his bike and ride. San Diego Veterans Magazine asked, “Why did you pick July of all months to ride?”

Huesing, a retired Infantry Officer and the Bestselling Author of Echo in Ramadi, The Firsthand Story of U.S. Marines in Iraq’s Deadliest City (Regnery, 2018), replied with conviction, “I want to be clear about one thing. I didn’t pick the month — the month picked me. We don’t get to choose when our friends decide to kill themselves, and when Dave’s mom asked me to come out to South Carolina and give the eulogy, I rode out and got some perspective along the way. My legacy to the ride will be that it is always done in July because I want everyone who rides to suffer a little bit.

I say that with a happy heart, but people must suffer in some way. Endure the 115-degree heat through the desert. Get rained on in the Deep South and feel the wind and friction of the road. Those things are all reminders that everyone needs to understand others have it worse than you do.” Last year Huesing rode 5,150 miles to honor his friend — this year, in 2021, he did it again and went from San Diego, CA to Miami, FL, and rode 3,161 miles to prevent veteran suicide — not just raise awareness. Continued on next page... / SEPTEMBER 2021


Huesing explained, “There’s a vast difference in the terms [awareness vice prevention] in my opinion. We know the number will never be zero, but we like to think we are doing our part for veterans in our tribe who struggle with the pressure related to PTS — we connect veterans in a safe space through outreach programs — that’s what we are great at.” Huesing went on to tell us, “There are a lot of statistics floating around about veteran suicide, like 22 a day — but they aren’t statistics to me — they are my Marines and friends. This rampant problem of veteran suicide has smacked me right in the face, and I’m at a loss every time it strikes. Suicide doesn’t discriminate on race, gender, rank, branch of service, or age. But sadly, we rarely see it coming, and that’s why we continue to lead this fight to stem it the best way we know how.” SD Veterans Magazine asked how Huesing keeps up the energy for what has become a daunting task to help lead this fight. The number of veterans who’ve died from suicide surpassed the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 9/11, over 7,000 were killed in combat, and now some reports have over 30,000 suicides from the veteran community who served. Huesing said, “There is no expiration date on my commission as a leader. It is a lifelong commitment for me. I’m very fortunate to have the capacity to continue doing what I do — not everyone does or must. You don’t have to be like me and dump your life story into 300-pages of a book or get on a stage and pick the scab open in front of thousands of strangers to make an impact. Each veteran and citizen in America can do that if they do just one thing — Care. No matter how we do it, I just want veterans to stop killing themselves.” Huesing’s journey is only one small piece of his contribution to the veteran community. He truly believes in the cause and the people surrounding him as he puts his money and actions where his mouth is. His ethos of lifelong service has inspired countless within the veteran community and well beyond. He gave us one example: “Take ‘Doc’ Smith. That guy had a gun in his mouth at one point in his life and managed to pull back from the edge. He got paralyzed in Iraq but he’s still fighting. He rode 700 miles— without fear, staying alive, and refuses to quit.” 20 / SEPTEMBER 2021

SD Veterans Magazine asked Huesing why philanthropy is so important to him?

SD Veterans Magazine asked Huesing what the most memorable part of his trip was.

Huesing said, “I truly believe that at the beginning and end of every day, if you aren’t helping others, you aren’t helping yourself.”

He was silent, then smiled. “I’ll share this one for any veteran or person struggling with PTS or depression or anyone feeling that friction in life. I rode 373 miles on the fourth day. I was soaked in sweat. Lines of salt stains showed through my leather. Sunset was close. I pulled from a parking lot in Corinth on my way to Bartonville, Texas, which lay ten miles away. The drive took forty minutes. I looked in the tiny, silver mirror of my bike. I saw over thirty riders behind me, local police cars blocked traffic — blue lights flashed. I heard the blast-horns of the fire trucks who showed up to escort me as our convoy ran red lights as we blazed to our stop. One thought hit me. This is support. This is love. If there are veterans out there thinking that you are alone and that no one cares — I’ve got news for you. There are thousands we are surrounded by that do.”

That attitude has served Huesing well as he leads his team at Save the Brave to continue the mission and help those in need, and his message goes beyond that of veterans. He added, “Charity is not supposed to be easy — it’s supposed to be hard. I think it should be hard to give your money when you’d rather spend it on something frivolous — or give your time when you’d rather be at rest. Those are defining moments in a person’s life. When you do it, you’ll probably never see any recognition — but you’ll know. That’s the important part.” Down every stretch of highway and through every city, Huesing told us that his ride “…exposed the best of the human condition — despite the pandemic and amid the disarray on the social and political landscapes in America I saw the very best of what this country has to offer. It was shown to me time and time again by people who showed up to support me. People who care. People who want to be led, and inspired, and connected. I’m humbled to be a part of that.”

Major Scott A. Huesing, USMC (Ret), is a proven combat leader who has planned and led hundreds of combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. He is the Executive Director of Save the Brave, a certified 501(C)3. To find out more about Save the Brave, visit / SEPTEMBER 2021




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ys remember Family looks back on Marine’s life of service By Mary Dever


n the morning of Oct. 23, 1983, 21-year-old John Chipura was on his way to his shift as a radio operator at the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit headquarters in Beirut when a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives into the barracks, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. FBI investigators said that it was the largest nonnuclear explosion since World War II and the most powerful car bomb ever detonated at that time. And for three days following the deadly terrorist attack, Chipura’s family waited for word of his fate, not knowing whether he had made it out alive. “He was missing to us for three days. For three days, we had no contact, no information, nothing,” said John’s brother, Gerard Chipura. “We thought he was lost, like so many others at that time.” The family’s congressman, who was in Beirut to assess the scene, encountered his Staten Island constituent and Marine Corps veteran delivered some comforting John Chipura transferred news to the Chipuras. to the New York City Fire “I remember being in our Department in the kitchen when he called my footsteps of his father mother,” said Gerard. “He and brother, after having said, ‘This is Guy Molinari, spent 12 years as a New York City police officer. your congressman from

Washington. I’m in Beirut right now. I have your son here and he’s safe.’ It was a very dramatic moment for us.” Gerard said that after his brother assisted in recovery efforts and returned home from Beirut, his outlook on life had changed. John had told him he was talking to a friend moments before the bomb went off and had always wondered if he could have done anything differently. “He always thought that if he talked to that guy for one more minute, maybe he would’ve changed his future,” recalled Gerard. “It was tough for John. But, at the same time, it made him more personable to people, because if he was going to have a conversation with you, he took the time to spend with you and understand who you were.” Gerard believes John’s experience in Beirut led to his life of service. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, John returned to Staten Island and joined the New York City Police Department. John worked for seven years in the 72nd Precinct and then three years in the Brooklyn South narcotics unit. “John’s family said he grew up idolizing John Wayne, and joining the Marine Corps was a natural fit,” said National Commander Butch Whitehead. “What he experienced in Beirut was tragic, but he seemingly used that to fuel the fire for a life dedicated to service, something we only see in our nation’s most dedicated heroes.” After 12 years with the NYPD, John decided to switch things up and follow in his father’s and brother’s footsteps by joining the New York City Fire Department. “His experience in Beirut affected his world tremendously,” said Gerard. “I think that’s when he decided he wanted to see if he could affect people every day. That became his new normal after / SEPTEMBER 2021


John Chipura (left) helped with recovery and cleanup efforts in Beirut after the terrorist attack killed 241 U.S. service members. His family finally received word of his safety when Congressman Guy Molinari (right) arrived in Beirut to assess the damage.


experiencing such a horrible disaster.” “The brave men who died in Beirut made a difference during their too-short but significant lives,” said Marine veteran and DAV National Service Officer Don Inns, a Chipura family friend. “Those of us who survived Beirut have a duty to honor their supreme sacrifice by making a difference. Anything less is to leave our fallen brothers behind. ‘‘‘Chip’ became a beacon of light, leading the charge in this awe-inspiring mission of service,” added Inns. “He had everything to live for and even more that he was willing to die for. In the end, what matters most is the love in the hearts we leave behind.” Soon, the brothers were assigned to separate firehouses in Brooklyn, only 3 miles apart. Gerard recalls working two shifts alongside his brother, a

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rarity in a department that size. “For two brothers to work together on the same shift and do the same job, it’s priceless,” he said. On Sept. 11, 2001, John was detailed to Ladder 105 in downtown Brooklyn when news of the first World Trade Center attack reached the firehouse. John’s engine responded to the Trade Center at 8:54 a.m. John and Gerard’s sister, Nancy, worked for the port authority on the 69th floor of Tower 1. Reportedly, John was last seen assisting in the evacuation of Tower 2 as his sister escaped from Tower 1. “I know John was thinking about my sister in those buildings, knowing he was going to go help,” said Gerard. “His fiancée worked five blocks away, too. So if getting to downtown Manhattan was going to secure his world and the people he loved the most, he was going to get there. He was going to do everything he possibly could. And I thought it was kind of weird that I didn’t get a call from him saying, ‘Hey, come on. We’re going; we’ve got to go as brothers.’ There was none of that. So that’s when I really had a bad sinking feeling that he was going or he was there already.” As the enormity of the disaster unfolded, the Chipura family started to realize the original list of missing persons contained thousands of police officers and firefighters. Gerard had been called in as well to assist with the recovery. At 3 the next morning, his shift ended and he

headed home to see if he could get any new information about John and his other loved ones who had been in the city. “When I got [to Staten Island], I found out my sister had escaped; she was home. My wife had been in Midtown Manhattan, she had come home,” he recalled. “John’s fiancée, Gina, she had made it out. So we all just made our way to my house and tried to make heads or tails and figure it out. It was a tremendous, gutwrenching feeling for me.” In spring 2002, the Chipura’s were notified of John’s recovery; two bone fragments, part of his hip and part of his calf. “John was the only recovery from his whole company working that day,” Gerard said. “It was very traumatic for the other families. We still memorialize them all together every year.” The hunt for identification of remains found at Ground Zero continues today, with more than 1,100 people still unidentified, according to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Kips Bay, N.Y. “They say if you say somebody’s name over and over again every single day, they never really die,” Gerard said. “So that’s what we do. We have done a golf outing

Gerard Chipura (left) with his brother, John.

“They say if you say somebody’s name over and over again every single day, they never really die, so that’s what we do.” —Gerard Chipura

for John as a memorial every year for 18 years. Every single year, we put 120 to 140 people on the golf course and think about John for the day.” In honor of his life, John’s family established the John G. Chipura Foundation. Through the foundation, they are able to help support numerous causes that were important to John, including Boy Scouts, veterans camps and local children. “We’re not changing the world, but we might just change one life, and that’s a very simple thing that John would do,” said Gerard. “So that’s kind of our mantra. We can’t change the world, but we can help you right now and change the way your life is and just make you smile for one minute.” Gerard remembers seeing a “Never Forget” banner hanging near Ground Zero shortly after the attack. He said the message he wants for people to embrace isn’t “Never Forget” but “Always Remember.” “It’s not about never forgetting for me. It’s about always remembering, because it’s always going to be there,” he said. “We have to remember things that have happened, even as tragic as they are.” Gerard said after John returned from Beirut, he was much more affectionate to people and would stop and say “I love you” more—a lesson he believes fueled his brother’s legacy as a public servant. “I think he realized that we’re only here for a short period of time, so make every moment count,” said Gerard. “I think John influenced me because he was so positive that it changed me. [After 9/11], I was digging for my fellow firefighters, just like my brother was digging for his fellow Marines 18 years earlier in Beirut. It was very humbling to realize that we had two similar experiences decades apart. I realized I had a purpose to continue serving people and with John’s memory inside of me.” “We owe a debt of gratitude to the entire Chipura family for the selfless sacrifices they made in service to our country. Nor can we forget the heroism it inspired,” said Whitehead. “That day changed the world and altered the paths of so many lives. It took me to Iraq and led me to DAV. It’s hard to believe nearly 20 years have passed. We absolutely cannot forget the sacrifices made that day by people like John and his family or those who were called to serve after. An entire generation of veterans—many of whom became seriously ill or injured as a result of their post-9/11 service—has been relentlessly serving in various capacities ever since.” n / SEPTEMBER 2021


Real Talk: Mental Health By Leslie McCaddon,

Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD

September is Suicide Prevention Month: YOU Matter In the weeks and months after my husband died by suicide, I was often asked “What was he thinking? Why?” For a while, I believed this was a question that required an answer. How could a man who had a successful military career behind him and a bright medical career ahead of him want to die? How could the man who had been my best friend for 20 years want to permanently leave me? How could he hurt our children --the children he adored -- like this? The truth is, I will never know exactly what was going through my husband’s thoughts when he made the decision that ended his life. Even if I did, I wouldn’t understand it. If I understood the thought process that took my husband away from the children and career he loved so fiercely, I’d have to be experiencing the same level of crisis in my brain as he had in that tragic moment-and that is a dangerous place for anyone to be. I’m thankful I don’t have that understanding. In fact, I have done, and continue to do, many things to prevent myself from experiencing that kind of mental health crisis. So often when we discuss suicide prevention, we talk about how we can stop someone else from taking their own life. And we can absolutely make an effort to be there for each other, watch for signs of suicide, and accompany our loved ones on their journey to seek help. The underlying causes that lead to suicide are treatable. We must make sure that everyone we love knows this and encourage them to seek out support. Yet, while there are many good actions, we can take to guide someone towards effective treatment, it is imperative that we are mentally healthy ourselves. 26 / SEPTEMBER 2021

Just as we must put the oxygen mask on ourselves first in the event of a loss of air pressure on a flight, we must first take care of our own mental health to be the best supporters of our loved ones who may experience their own mental health challenges and even crises. To mentally train for your part in helping to prevent suicide you can: • Build your mental health skill set. Whether through therapy, coaching, reading books, taking online courses, or some other means of self-development, make sure you have a toolbox full of coping, communication, and self-care skills. • Seek out community. Talk with your friends. Don’t try to manage deployment, PCSing, raising a family, and navigating a military marriage alone. • Seek joy! Find healthy things to do in your life that create fun and joy for yourself. Think of joy like a protective armor that has the added effect of being contagious to the world around you. • Get a therapist. A good therapist is one you personally connect with. Mental health is like physical health, we have to keep working at it for our entire lives. If the stressors are piling up and your skill set isn’t helping enough, it is time to get help from an expert.

The benefit of taking care of yourself is that it makes you better equipped to notice when someone you know, and love is struggling. It gives you a cushion of resiliency which means you can support that friend, without putting your own mental health in jeopardy. Think of it like a bank account-- when our own is flush, it is easy and fulfilling to buy our friends a nice dinner out. But, if we’re struggling just to pay our bills, we may resent it when they ask us to split it down the middle and our portion is only twenty percent of the check. I am grateful that I can say I did everything I possibly could do to help my husband. He had a lot of factors that made it difficult for him to recognize how much he needed quality mental health support. It gives me peace to know I left no stone unturned in trying to help him get the help he needed. But I was only able to do that effectively because I was making my own mental health a priority in my life. When the day came that we all missed another opportunity to help prevent his suicide, I had months of therapy and tools within to support me. The effort that I made to build my own resilience is what continued to give me the strength to process the trauma my children and I experienced when we lost him. Dr. Phil likes to say, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My philosophy is “If Mama ain’t healthy, ain’t nobody healthy.” Whether you are mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, aunt, uncle or friend, making your own mental health a priority is a powerful choice you can make in our united fight to prevent suicide. Your physical and mental health matter because you matter. Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide — and those who know a Veteran in crisis — should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at, or text to 838255. More crisis resources, visit: Mental health support, visit Peer support call Vets4Warriors 1-855-838-8255 National Women Veterans Hotline: (855) 829-6636 Leslie McCaddon serves as part of the outreach team at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD. She is the Gold Star Widow of Army CPT Michael McCaddon, MD. / SEPTEMBER 2021


A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain, LCSW

WORDS MATTER As I began to write this month’s column, I thought about the words I would like to use. I thought about how in recent history our words have had significant impact and many times have attributed to high emotions and reactivity amongst us. Not that this hasn’t happened before, but it seems in recent years it is more prevalent. In order to combat any confusion, I thought some basic definitions would help. I reached out to my good old friend Webster. Unity: The state of being united or joined as a whole Divisive language: Creating disunity or dissention Polarizing: Causing strong disagreement between opposing groups. Civil Discord: lack of agreement (between people, things or ideas) I must also say - this is NOT a political article. These lessons apply to all areas of our lives. Back in 2016, our country was gearing up for an election. That year my sister also turned 30 and we went to celebrate with a weeklong trip to Cabo San Lucas. As we were getting ready for bed one night, we turned on the TV. We turned to the only three channels that were in English. Of course, they were all tuned into the election. We spent several minutes checking out each one and they were all three covering the same speech. We knew the speech was the same due to what we were watching but the commentary was VERY different. The different spin from each channel was astonishing. If you did not know better, you would not know they were watching the same speech. That day I realized the news in that moment was more opinion than fact. This is when I truly saw how polarizing the information was being put out- on the very same event. If I had only watch one channel, I would have only had one very far leaning biased view. That same year, I had an amazing friend who had and still does, very different political choices then myself. What was unique was the way we approached the election and our friendship. 28 / SEPTEMBER 2021

We had very open and candid conversations about the election and specifically addressed the why. It is often easier to just say something is wrong or get upset than to truly understand the why. I was able to learn more about her background and why she voted the way she did. I was able to understand why certain issues where important to her and why others where not as impactful to her. She was also able to hear and learn about my views and background. Neither of us changed our decisions….but we respected and understood each other. This is what I see so often missing in our day-to-day dialogue. It is ok….in fact it is healthy….to have different opinions. It is how we deal with them that is the challenge. Here are three tips that can help us all. Seek out positives in any situation. It does not matter what the situation is – there can always be something positive. It is easy to find negatives in our daily life, but it takes effort to see the positives. I make a conscious effort to point out at least three things daily that have been positive and at least one way I brought positivity to the world around me. Own what is yours to own! Let go of what is out of our control. So many times, we get frustrated about things that are out of our control. Many times these are things that have little impact on us. Example: I once dated a guy who was so enraged in traffic. He would let the fact that someone was going slower than he wanted impact his entire night. Someone else’s slow driving negatively impacted his mood for several hours after. Granted this is extreme but so often we let things we can not change impact our emotions and behaviors. Lastly, we have more alike than we are different. Take time to talk to others and see their point of view. Listen to others and use less divisive language. We do not all have to have the same beliefs to get along or respect one another. Respect for others goes a long way towards unity and over all happiness. Words have power…..use them wisely. Think before you speak and spend more time listening. / SEPTEMBER 2021


The Healing Light Recovery & Awareness By Amber Robinson

Marine vet, musician and firefighter, John Preston,

joined the Marines in 2000 straight out of high school. From a legacy of Marines, he knew from a young age that he would join. “My dad was a Marine, both my brothers were Marines,” said Preston. “Becoming a Marine was just what we did.” What Preston did not know was his family legacy of service to the Marines would leave him and his family shattered. Shortly after joining, Preston watched the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. For several years he watched the events of the war play out on AFN until the last six months of his service when he was given the chance to go. After 6 months in Iraq, Preston redeployed back home to outprocess the Marines. At that time there were no attempts to re-integrate Marine warfighters after combat or after service.

Preston left service he signed with a San-Diego based label, then called Reel to Reel. Unfortunately, the venture was a flop, forcing Preston to face failure which kicked his already problematic drinking into hyper drive. He was drinking daily to black out and filled with growing disdain and resentment. I had a huge chip on my shoulder,” said Preston. “Like f*ck you, I put my life on the line for you people.” In 2011 Preston was able to work his way into the Fire Service but was still drinking heavily on his days off. “I was literally a functional alcoholic,” said Preston. Although he gave music one more chance after his flop and even gained some notoriety, he walked away from music completely in 2005. In 2014, after picking up musica again, he and his self- named band, John Preston, signed with Pacific Records (formerly Reel to Reel) in San Diego. Shortly after they produced a song, “This Is War” which began to gain popularity. But, despite the good turns in his life, he was still drinking heavily. His marriage was falling apart and his ego was running rampant. He says he had no idea how he managed to stay in the fire service, not get a DUI or even stay alive. His marriage finally collapsed, but an even bigger blow came in the Summer of 2015, when Preston’s father died under anesthesia for a common endoscopy. Although he regained a pulse for a short period and was on life support, his family had to pull the plug. “My father was a big effort in everything I was doing,” said Preston. “In 2004 when I was first trying to get into the music industry my dad came out and lived with me for three months to make sure I kept myself together.”

“From 2004 to about 2006, us warfighters didn’t really get the proper ‘out’. You can even see it in the numbers of suicides during that time,” said Preston. Luckily, for Preston, he had a purpose when he got out. “I signed a record label as soon as I got out,” said Preston. During his down time at war, he and his buddies created a music video for a song he wrote called “Good, Good America”. The video, which Preston laughs about now, hit national press, the LA Times and other Southern California publications. So, as soon as 30 / SEPTEMBER 2021

Also a combat veteran from Vietnam, Preston could call his father for advice on anything. “He was the person I called everyday,” said Preston. Preston’s brothers joined him at his father’s side in the days prior to his death, but it was not a peaceful gathering. He and his older brother, Mike, fought over when the plug should be pulled. As kids, their dad had the same issues Preston faced now, drinking and family neglect, due to his time at war. Mike, nine years older, took up the slack.

“Mike coached my little league teams,” said Preston. “My older brother was my best friend.” Just days after his father’s death, as he sat in a hotel room preparing for a show, he received a call from his tearful wife. “Mike is dead, he shot himself,” she said. John did not speak to his brother for a long time. Six months after his father’s death, as he sat in a hotel room preparing for a show, he received a call from his tearful wife. “Every single person on the other side of that has to suffer, we don’t get better, but [they] get to check out and we are here having to ride it out forever,” said Preston. After that, Preston got sober and his work became about raising awareness and honoring his brother’s life. In 2020 he decided on a special mission to raise awareness about veteran suicide. Preston decided to walk 22 miles a day with a 22 kilo (50 pounds) pack from his home of Palo Alto, California, down to the USS Midway here, in San Diego, a distance of about 600 miles. A documentary crew would follow him for the hike.

“People showed up from everywhere,” he said. “They literally came and took this burden from me to make sure I finished this walk. This was MY burden. My brother’s ashes were in that pack, memorabilia from my father.” But, Preston had done what he h ad never done before “I asked for help,” said Preston, “....and the whole world showed up.” Veterans and supporters showed up from different states, members of the documentary crew carried the pack, his wife took a turn. When he made his social media plea, Preston’s feet were raw and bleeding, By the time the walk ended his feet had healed as well as his spirit. Preston ended his suicide awareness hike aboard San Diego’s beloved USS Midway. San Diego Fire brought out their entire battalion to lead him in. As Preston rounded the last corner and saw the lights of the Midway shining bright, he almost wished they could just keep going. “It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “It changed me, forever.”

The grueling mileage and added weight were the rules Preston gave himself, knowing it was going to be painful. “I wanted to show people what pain looked like,” said Preston. At about 150 miles into the walk, Preston knew he wasn’t going to be able to complete his self-imposed rules. The crew began to discuss replacing him and he began to worry that his mission would fail. Finally, he realized he would have to bend his own rules to finish what he had started. “So I made a social media plea,” said Preston. “I said that we were going to need some help if we were gonna finish this.”

Preston’s film should debut on a prominent network next Fall accompanied by his new album which he is recording in San Diego.

What happened next wouldbe the backbone of Preston’s healing.

After the film and album release, he hopes his LLC for the film, 22 And You, will eventually become a full nonprofit where he is able to continually help others, like himself and his brother, find their purpose as well. / SEPTEMBER 2021


How to Help

Someone with Suicidal Thoughts Approaching someone who is struggling can be difficult, but it’s worth the discomfort to help save a life.

ASK Ask the person if they think about dying or killing themselves. Don’t hesitate to do this - asking will not put the idea in their head, nor will it make them more likely to attempt suicide.

LISTEN Start a conversation with the person and listen without judging to show you care. Create a safe space for them to share their feelings and vent. DO NOT swear to secrecy.

STAY Don’t leave the person alone. Stay with them or make sure they are in a private, secure place with another caring person until you can get further help.

SECURE If you suspect the person could be a harm to themselves, take them seriously. Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

CALL Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and follow their guidance. If danger for self-harm seems immediate, call 911. Sources: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services; Centers for Disease Control

32 / SEPTEMBER 2021


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DAV responds to struggling Navy veteran in mental health crisis with lifesaving resources By Matt Saintsing


avy veteran Ed Bancroft was at his wit’s end when he reached out to DAV in July. He felt that the VA health care system and others had left him on his own, and he eventually expressed suicidal thoughts to DAV employees. A series of phone calls between Bancroft and DAV took place, including with National Service Officer Adam Barnes, who spoke to Bancroft for nearly two hours. “We had recently received suicide prevention training where we were taught if we have someone who is suicidal, and if you’re not with them, you need to call 911 to do a safety check,” said Barnes, the assistant supervisor of the DAV office in Los Angeles. Barnes handed the call off to Robert Graves, the director of operations for the DAV Department of California, who remained on the line with Bancroft until authorities arrived. When police visited to check on Bancroft, they found several loaded guns. “One thing we do here, and I try to preach to the team is, you have to assume this is the last person they’re going to call,” added Graves. “You want to do everything you can do to make sure the person on the other end isn’t up against a wall.” Suicide is often spontaneous or impulsive, according to researchers. One recent study found that gun owners are four times more likely to die by suicide. Veterans are


Navy veteran Ed Bancroft reached out to DAV with thoughts of suicide. Since then, he’s been receiving care for his mental health and claims assistance.

trained to operate firearms and, according to the 2015 National Firearms Survey, are twice as likely to own one, making them much more vulnerable to the most deadly method of suicide. After speaking with the police, Bancroft was admitted to a mental health facility later that day, where he was assessed / SEPTEMBER 2021

and released. Since then, he’s been receiving care for his mental health. Barnes connected him with local resources and is currently handling his VA claim. “When he filed a claim for depression on his own, he never mentioned the stories he told me,” added Barnes. “They denied him, saying the depression was based on regular stress incurred in service at the work environment and that his depression was not service-connected.” Earlier this year, President Donald Trump unveiled the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans to End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS)—a framework designed to curb the suicide rate among military members and veterans. Suicide prevention is the VA’s highest clinical priority, said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie when announcing PREVENTS. The plan encourages increased education on gun safety and voluntary safe storage of firearms. Reducing access to lethal methods is one of the few broad-scale approaches that has been shown to decrease suicide rates. DAV has supported H.R. 8084, the Lethal Means Safety Training Act, which would require all VA employees who interact with veterans to undergo annual evidence-based training on safe storage—including not just medical staff but also those within the Veterans Benefits Administration, Community Care Network providers and caregivers. “Lethal means safety is about creating time and space between the impulse to act and the means to harm oneself,” said National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “This bill would create multiple touchpoints throughout the VA, helping to ensure all those who work directly with veterans are prepared to have these important, potentially lifesaving conversations about safe storage and suicide prevention.” As for Bancroft, while the road remains long, he said he has full trust in Barnes. “The wounds that I have are deep,” said Bancroft. “There are things I haven’t shared with anybody in 30 years, but I’m starting to.” n Editor’s note: In choosing to share his story, Mr. Bancroft hopes to help other veterans by shedding the stigma surrounding struggling with mental health.

Top: In addition to assisting Bancroft with his VA claim, National Service Officer Adam Barnes’ recent suicide prevention training may have potentially saved Bancroft’s life. Bottom: Robert Graves, director of operations for the Department of California, stayed on the line with the veteran until police arrived to do a safety check.

VA resources

Veterans in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1), text 838255 or use the chat at In an effort to help protect veterans and their family members, the VA and Project ChildSafe provides cable gun locks, available at VA medical facilities across the country for no charge. Contact your nearest VA medical center, the facility’s suicide prevention coordinator or your primary care team to obtain a free gun lock. / SEPTEMBER 2021


WHAT’S NEXT Transition to Civilian Life By Eve Nasby & Kristin Hennessy

It’s Your Time to Master Your Transition WATCH & LEARN THE PROCESS Think about a watch. Open up the back of a watch and you’ll notice hundreds of individual parts, all machined to perfection. They all work in unison. However, if just one part is faulty, the entire watch stops functioning. The job search process is no different. There are many critical aspects of the job search process that need to be mastered. If all are not cranking in harmony with each other, it can sabotage the entire process. To ease your transition from the military world into the civilian workforce, here are 5 practical steps you can take:

CHANCE VS CHOICE Let’s be honest. Just the thought of transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce is stressful. Jeff is a prime example. He struggled with thoughts and worries, such as “Will my skill set REALLY be transferable?” “Will I have to start near the bottom and work my way up?” and “Will I have to take a pay cut?” These are normal fears. After 25 years in the military, Jeff S., US Navy Commander, was determined to find a civilian job that he enjoyed going to everyday, made good use of his skills, and paid a comparable salary to what he made in the military. Most importantly, he didn’t want to leave this important career milestone to chance. It is overwhelming just to determine where to start. But, in order to get to a destination, you need to have a clear idea of where you want to go. Jeff understood that he needed to show potential employers that his skills were clearly transferable. He knew he needed to sharpen his interviewing skills to position himself as invaluable. Although Jeff’s mindset was right, he knew he couldn’t execute on all of these needs alone. 36 / SEPTEMBER 2021

1. Get clarity on what career paths excite you and which positions are the best fit for your skills. Finding a good fit requires that you have clarity on the role ‘career’ plays in your life right now. For example, do you want to climb the corporate ladder or is work-life balance more important? Think about what REALLY matters to you. 2. Develop your personal brand. Branding isn’t just for companies. Taking time to create a personal brand helps highlight your unique skills and sets you apart from the competition in a clear and effective way. 3. Leverage and expand your network. 90% of job offers come through your personal network. It’s important to be laser focused on who you are trying to meet, how you present yourself, and how you can be of service to others. 4. Upgrade your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. It is important to highlight the skills you have developed throughout your military career in a way that showcases how your skillset transfers into the civilian world. Be mindful to avoid military terminology that is not easily understood by people in the civilian world.

5. Develop your skill set so you can win the interview. Interviewing can be intimidating to many people. However, it is simply a skillset that needs to be developed. Mock interviews can be a helpful way to build confidence with how you describe your expertise in a way that showcases your value in the civilian world. Easier said than done? Without help, maybe. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate this transition alone. There are plenty of support options available for transitioning military members to find a great job that makes excellent use of your skillset, compensates you at the level you deserve and provides you with a sense of purpose. GETTING HELP HELPS GET YOU HIRED There are many available resources that support transitioning senior military leaders. At the Hired Executive, a team of executive coaches will guide and support you through the transition process. Having a coach or team of coaches will help you gain clarity on this next phase of your career, develop a rock-solid mindset, optimize your LinkedIn profile, upgrade your resume, develop a personal brand, hone your networking skills, master the interview process, and maximize your salary negotiations. With the help of The Hired Executive team, Jeff was able to build his confidence and get into action. They helped him modify his LinkedIn profile, which resulted in him being contacted shortly thereafter by a recruiter from a multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate. Support from their interview coaches boosted his confidence and belief that he could win whatever interview he was engaged in. True to form, within 8 weeks of starting the program Jeff received a job offer that he was very excited to accept. If you are a senior military leader transitioning within the next 6 months, we’d like to invite you to a complementary 45-minute strategy call where we will do a deep dive into your situation and help you make a plan for your career transition. To book your call go to: For more information or help transitioning, contact Eve Nasby at, 619-244-3000.

Need help with your resume or interviewing skills? Reach out to Eve at: / SEPTEMBER 2021



Things to Know about Wounded Warrior Project’s Drone Pilot Training

Did you hear the buzz? Wounded Warrior Project brings innovative career training opportunities to San Diego veterans Who was flying drones in San Diego last month? Fifteen veterans from Southern California and Arizona were training to become commercial drone pilots as part of a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) career counseling program called Warriors to Work®. The training started in June with online instruction and wrapped up in August with hands-on coaching. As part of the program, the warriors tested for and obtained their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 certification to become licensed commercial drone pilots. Moving forward, the warriors will work with WWP career counselors to find opportunities in this exciting field. This group of warriors is the second cohort to complete the drone pilot training; the first was on the East Coast of the United States. WWP plans to offer similar opportunities to warriors in other parts of the country. 38 / SEPTEMBER 2021

How much did this training cost? All WWP programs and services are free for warriors registered with the nonprofit. Veterans and service members who sustained a visible or invisible injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible for WWP’s programs and services. How can flying a drone become a career? WWP connects warriors to innovative employment opportunities. According to the FAA, more than 240,000 remote drone pilots are now certified by the government agency. That number is expected to increase as drones become more valuable to the operations and efficiency of several industries. Applications for commercial drone pilots include defense, emergency medical services, telecommunications, real estate, construction, oil and gas, events and entertainment, and sanitation, among others. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates that by 2025 there will be more than 100,000 new drone pilot jobs.

WWP is following these employment trends to help veterans find their next missions in life. Can you tell us more about Warriors to Work? Warriors to Work is WWP’s career counseling program that helps post-9/11 wounded veterans and their families find their next careers in civilian life. WWP career counselors help warriors and their families translate military experience into a civilian resume; provide interview coaching and mock interviews; facilitate networking opportunities; and offer other professional services, including support with certifications. In 2020, Warriors to Work helped place nearly 2,000 wounded veterans and family members in new careers, with combined first-year salaries totaling almost $94 million. How can I learn more about Warriors to Work? If you haven’t already registered with WWP, call the nonprofit’s Resource Center at 888-997-2586 or visit After your registration is complete, let WWP know you are interested in veteran employment services. You can also learn more about Warriors to Work on WWP’s website.

“It was a great learning experience,” said Navy veteran Thomas Grellner. “There are lots of opportunities out there, and the demand seems to be growing quickly.”

Photos by: Amber Robinson - San Diego Veterans Magazine / SEPTEMBER 2021


HUMAN RESOURCES Transition to Business By Paul Falcone

The Future of Workplace Ethics My newest book will be out in the spring of 2022 titled Workplace Ethics: Mastering Ethical Leadership and Sustaining a Moral Workplace, part of a new five-book series titled The Paul Falcone Workplace Leadership Series (HarperCollins Leadership). Why now? We’re facing evolutionary change at revolutionary speed, and it’s time to make the topic of ethics and morals in the workplace part of our common dialog and lexicon. Some of these changes will impact us directly, while others will impact our workplace and industry and the broader economy as a whole. While we can’t know what’s around the next corner, we can remain abreast of the current hot items that will likely impact our organizations and our careers in the near future. What’s important is that we discuss these foundational changes in the workplace, both in the corporate boardroom and the nearest breakroom. The following two topics are likely highest on the list in terms of what’s hot out there in corporate America, so let’s jump right in.

• Artificial Intelligence Ethical challenges will continue to come our way for many reasons, but none more than due to the meteoric changes in technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacts workplace ethics and captures more time in the media than just about anything else and for good reason: Many corporate executives believe that harnessing this information is critical to organizational growth and development, but even more will tell you that they don’t truly understand how to manage the “unintended consequences” of skewed data. Ethical issues surrounding AI for human resources, for example, represent the future of HR but pose a real risk if not handled correctly. Everything from recruitment to workforce planning to performance management will be captured by AI technology in one form or another: cognitive technology, machine learning, and roboticprocess automation (RPA) represent the very best tools available to measure human capital as a true corporate asset. But there can be a “dark side” of “unintended consequences” if the data is skewed or biased, and legal claims of disparate impact or disparate treatment may result in class action litigation if employers aren’t careful. What makes this even more challenging is that the majority of HR professionals aren’t schooled in the evaluation of data analytics, don’t know how algorithms work, and report that they don’t have the technical acumen to evaluate these new, growing technologies. The key: AI should be leveraged to augment the human experience--not replace it. In other words, human analysis and AI must work together to identify common-sense limitations to the data being generated. AI isn’t intended to a be a onesize-fits-all magical solution to all of our problems. Instead, it should be viewed as an enhancement tool to identify issues that might otherwise miss awareness. Embrace new technology but ensure that you remain diligent for unintended consequences that should require you to redefine the criteria you’re using in order to generate bias-free results. • Gender Parity and Pay Equity The subject of wage inequality between the sexes remains a contentious topic, although it has been more

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than 50 years since the Equal Pay Act (1963) and the Civil Rights Act (1964) were passed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for women is about 24 percent less than that of the median male salary—women earn 76 percent of what men earn. Although this wage disparity has decreased since the late 1970s—when it was 62 percent—it reflects the long road to realizing fully equal pay in the workplace. The disparity is even greater for black and Hispanic women. Black women earn 64 cents and Hispanic women earn 56 cents to the $1 earned by white, non-Hispanic men. In 2018, asking salary history questions during the pre-employment interview process was barred in certain states in an attempt to “blind the pay scales” of applicants’ compensation histories, thus erasing prior salary from perpetuating future incongruities in salary offers between males and females performing substantially similar work. Will your organization objectively review salary levels based on experience, education, and performance regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity? How strongly do you feel about such disparities, and how far are you willing to go to proactively address them in your organization? Both of these large-scale issues deserve their own in-depth study. Just keep in mind that as long as human beings attempt to short cut systems and find loopholes, there will be ethical quandaries and consequences that come your way. The greatest investment you can make in yourself lies in developing a reputation as an ethical and moral business executive and human being. Make ethics the primary driver of your leadership brand, and everything else will surely align itself and fall into place. You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn at

Paul Falcone ( is a human resources executive and bestselling author on hiring, performance management, and leadership development. / SEPTEMBER 2021



Your Exit Strategy It may seem strange to think about an exit strategy when you’re just a startup or in the early stage of building your business. But that is the exact right time to think of your exit. An exit plan can determine many decisions you might make for years before you sail off to Tahiti.

The Stage of Your Business Think of the stage of a business as if it is on a clock. • From midnight to 3am, you’re laying down the framework, inventing new products or ideas, building a brand, establishing a customer base. It’s all new and exciting full of promise.

How Do You Calculate the Value of a Business?

• From 3am to 6am, you’ve established your model, developed a successful marketing effort, hired your employees, and you’re humming along. At this point you figure you’ve got a lock on it and have stopped asked yourself “what the hell am I doing?”

Take a step back and look at the business you plan to sell from a buyer’s point of view. The simple answer to this question is, how much is the right buyer willing to pay?

• From 6am to 9am, you’re growing, you know what you’re doing, you’re starting to understand your place on the planet and feeling pretty confident. You’ve also attracted competition and copycats because nothing attracts copycats like success.

The answer can be complicated with a ton of different answers, depending on the context. 1. What stage is your business in? 2. Why would a buyer want your business? 3. Does your business have Strategic Value? 4. Does your business have an Asset Value? 5. What is the Revenue Value of your business? 6. What is the People Value of your business?

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• From 9am to 12noon, you’re government. You’re restrained by “we’ve always done it that way.” You’re rigid. You have policies. And you’ve developed internal issues like carrying a high debt load and overpaid employees. Strategic Value Your buyer wants to know what you bring to the deal. They’re not looking simply at your financials. They may be looking inside of their own organization and what they might need to spend to deliver what you’ve already created.

A larger organization may define your value because you may offer a solution to their organization faster than building it. I’m reminded of a small San Diego based company called Sucuri that was bought by GoDaddy, one of many small fries who were made millionaires overnight. Asset Value Your company may have assets that drive the value of a deal. Assets can include stuff that can be sold or converted to cash. This can include your brand, a well-established internet presence, equipment, and a significant customer base or multi-year contracts with vendors or clients. Seller owned real estate frequently can get folded into the agreement. Revenue Value Simply put, the question of how much the business is generating in profits. What is the trend, is growth fast or slow? Or are you losing money? Whatever you do, don’t cook the books to look more profitable than you actually are. I had a client who thought she was clever in the way she disclosed info and was sued once the deception was discovered. She lost. People Value Some buyers are looking at a company because of the staff that are it. The value of that business may be not so much about the revenues and more with its expertise. Or the value of the revenue is enhanced by the expertise of the employees that would come with the purchase.



Transitioning out of the Military into the Civilian Workforce? Finding a job in the civilian world may seem easy at first. After all, you have learned skills, practiced leadership and demonstrated initiative that will make you successful wherever you go.

So those are four different ways that your value may be considered or calculated. You can see how your decisions now may impact your value in the long run. The value of your business is in the eye of the buyer, and it can be much more complicated than what you see here. A smart owner will work with a business broker who can bring potential buyers to the table and who is not emotionally involved in determining value.

The reality, though, is that it can be difficult. In fact, it can be downright depressing, demotivating and you may feel totally disillusioned.

Of course, there are always internet sites that can help. and are just two, but there are probably more.

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 >

Vicki Garcia is the owner of a marketing firm for over 33 plus years and has worked with veteran entrepreneurs for many years. She is the author of Power Focus, The Little Book of Digital Marketing, and My Startup Journal, which can be found on If you would like any of these books for free, please email her at

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



START A BUSINESS WITH LITTLE OR NO MONEY By Joseph Molina Start-up Funds are essential when it comes to starting a business. A steady stream of money (cash flow) is vital to the growth of any business. For new businesses, a good amount of startup capital can be a huge differencemaker. When combined with other important aspects such as a solid business plan; good marketing strategies; ingenious thinking and hard work, the sky is the limit. While many would love the idea of starting up their dream business ventures, they all abandon the idea when faced with the most important question—Where and how to get startup capital. This continuous to be one of the biggest obstacles for new entrepreneurs. Let’s look at some ideas on how to strat a business with little or no money down. 1. IDENTIFY A NEED This is very important when starting a new business. For you to make money, you need to identify what your potential customers really need (and want). You can do this by examining your immediate environment. What are the immediate needs of people there? What are they willing to spend money on? You could also expand your reach to State or region wide. Thankfully, the internet has made data collection easier. Knowing about peoples’ needs would give you a great strating point. 2. START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW Another important thing that can lead to your success in business is starting with what you already know. While anyone can go into any form of business, starting with your current set of the skills, passion, interest and or knowledge will give you an advantage. *Tip: You can also start in the same business as your day job since you already have some experience and mostlikely a good set of skills. 3. ESTIMATE YOUR STARTUP COST Estimate the cost of setting up and running your business within a foreseeable time frame. To do this, calculate the cost of all the necessary items needed. Include the cost of Start-up expenses like website, software, memberships, legal expenses, etc. These costs are only temporary estimates and can be changed in the long run as your business grows.

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4. INFORM EVERYONE ABOUT YOUR NEW BUSINESS Even though you are starting small, it shouldn’t limit your reach. You have to reach as many people as possible. You may want to tell your family members, friends, and people in your community about your new business. *Tip: It is a good idea to create a press release that can be distributed all over your Region. 5. USE THE INTERNET Create social media accounts for your business. Social media is key. Make sure to differentiate personal profile from business profile. This gives your business a more professional outlook. Cross-promote on these five major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn and engage with your followers to create a community. They will help you promote your busines faster! Create a website. It is crucial that you create a nice clear website, make sure to based your website on what other businesses in your market look like. *Tip: Don’t have to use a webdeveloper from the start, use a website template like wix, weebly, wordpress are just some of the options. These website services also offer hosting and domain name search, it makes it easier when you have all the services with one provider. 6. SEEK FOR EXTRA FUNDS You may need to seek funding to get you started. Make sure you really need the funds as loans are expensive and in many cases not necessary, at least during the start up process. Be innovative on ways to create revenue form the start. Here are some ideas you may want to consider: • Offer pre-sell – This approach allows you to pre-sell an item before having a large inventory. • Provide memberships - This allows you collect funds before having to have a large inventory. • Offer discounts when people purchase multiple itmes or recurring purchases – This again will allow you to collect funds faster. Business grants. As hard as it could be to get grants, they are real and would be very helpful (they are free money actually). Be on the lookout for local grants available for your type of business. Tax Credits. This is another “financing” option. For example, your bsuiess may receive tax credits for hiring Veterans (up to $9000 in some cases.

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

Details Matter. Especially In Legal Agreements

Have you ever wondered if that contract you were reading actually needed all those legal terms? Every term, condition, and individual facet of a legally binding contract can make a world of difference. Wording can make or break obligations, definitions can simplify the language or cause confusion, and missing or included elements can be the difference between a valid or void contract. A null and void contract is an illegitimate agreement, making it unenforceable by law. Null and void contracts are never actually executed because they are missing one or more of the required elements of a legal agreement. To draft a valid contract, you need to understand the necessary elements of a contract, what makes a contract void or voidable, and how to terminate an agreement.

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Elements of a Contract: A contract must include the following six elements to be legally binding and enforceable: 1. Capacity: Contractual capacity refers to an individual’s ability to enter into an enforceable contract. People who are under age, mentally disabled, or intoxicated provides for lack of legal capacity and can not be held liable for their end of the agreement. They can choose to move forward with the agreement if they wish, but they can also exit the contract at any time without breaching. 2. Offer: An offer is the initial draft of a contract that includes the terms of the contract to which the person you are entering into an agreement with is willing to be bound. Most offers include a promise to act or not act in a certain way or an exchange of promises. If the offer is accepted and signed, it becomes legally binding at that moment.

3. Acceptance: Acceptance is an agreement to abide by the terms and conditions in the contract. An offer’s acceptance must be made by the person who is accepting the offer. If the offer is not accepted, then the person not accepting the offer can make a counter offer and the process then starts over with that new offer and the acceptance of that new offer.

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4. Legality: Legality simply refers to whether or not the terms, conditions, and the overall agreement abides by law. If the subject matter of a contract is not legal, it is not enforceable. For the agreement to be valid, the transaction must be legal. 5. Consideration: Consideration is the exchange of one thing for another. Contract law states that both parties in the agreement need to provide something of value for the agreement to be valid. Consideration can include money, an item, or completing a certain action or service for someone. 6. Mutuality: Mutuality is a contract element that states both parties need to be bound to the agreement for it to be valid. If one party is not legally bound, then neither are. The agreements that lack mutuality are not valid contracts.

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

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Healthcare Careers: A Perfect Fit for Military and Civilian Life By Stephanie Lee, Air Force Veteran & Enrollment Manager, CareerStep Sometimes, the sense of division between life in the military and life as a civilian feels like a vast chasm. In fact, for military families, this sense of division joins a long list of challenges that specifically impact the men and women who sacrifice so much for the country. These challenges couldn’t be more apparent than when it comes to finding a post-military career or one that is flexible enough to align with military spouses’ unique needs—a career that checks all the right boxes: satisfaction, security, and stability. Finding industries and employers that understand the skills of veterans and their families can seem like an uphill climb at times, and it shows. For example, the unemployment rate for veterans rose to 6.5% in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Reasons for this vary, but one contributing factor could be that lessons learned under the harsh conditions of combat don’t always translate to private-sector jobs. And for military spouses—60% of which say they’re looking for full- or part-time work—finding a profession that’s both portable and in-demand is increasingly difficult.

However, there is hope and there are opportunities. First, it’s important to consider key reasons why a career in healthcare—the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy according to BLS data—might just be what bridges that expansive gap between military and civilian life. 1. Meaningful Work Most who enter the military are looking for fulfilling work—an opportunity to make a difference. A real difference. But few civilian careers allow veterans to make as much of a difference as those found in healthcare. That’s because working in this particular field, regardless of the role, provides the opportunity to impact peoples’ lives in profound ways. From mending wounds and healing minds to saving lives, the difference healthcare workers make is undeniable. 2. Transferable Skills There’s a reason healthcare is an overwhelmingly popular career choice for veterans and their spouses: it’s an industry in which military-specific skills are undeniably relevant. Creative problem solving, adaptability, and effective communication—they’re all valuable skills that healthcare organizations can’t ignore if they want to provide the best possible service and care to their patients. And they’re all skills that veterans and their spouses already possess. 3. In-Demand Careers People need healthcare. In turn, the industry needs people willing to step up to the proverbial plate.

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Economic and labor experts believe we need to hire 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025 if we’re going to keep pace with the needs of our aging population. But a persistent shortage of skilled workers with exceptional knowledge and training means hundreds of thousands of positions will remain unfilled. Home health aides, medical assistants, lab technicians, and more are all in high demand. 4. Portable Jobs For a working military spouse, it can be difficult to cultivate a strong professional network, and when the time comes to pack up and move to a new city, the wrong vocation can leave even the most talented pro scrambling to start over. That’s why job portability is so important. Healthcare training provides the skills and certifications that employers are looking for in highgrowth, high-demand fields in virtually every city in the entire world. Supportive Training for Success These days, there are multiple training options for learners to pave their road to success. These organizations often have hiring network relationships, so it’s important to keep in contact and inform them when certification is achieved. It’s especially important for members of the healthcare sector to be fully qualified and properly trained. An early step is to start by choosing a specific discipline and then find a provider that can help learners develop the concrete job skills employers are looking for. The good news is that there’s a significant amount of trusted providers who specialize in transforming entrylevel learners into high-performing, certified healthcare professionals. And they all do this with expansive catalogs of fully online career training programs that are fast, portable, and eligible for military education grants—often covering up to 100% of the cost.

Healthcare Training For Your Next Phase of Life Our online training programs are approved for military education funding—all designed to help military members and their spouses build skills and thrive in careers that are portable, in-demand, and rewarding. Start training today so you can be prepared for meaningful work tomorrow.

Finding the right fit takes a little time and it is important to explore the possibilities. Doing the research is crucial as it can improve the learning experience—and potentially lead to faster employment. Deciding to pursue a career in healthcare is a fulfilling and viable option for veterans and their spouses. About the Author: Stephanie Lee served in the Air Force for 11 years as a Munitions Systems Craftsman. She now serves as an Enrollment Manager for CareerStep, (, the Allied Health training division of Carrus. (

For more information, call (877) 201-3470 or visit / SEPTEMBER 2021


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

MIND OVER MATTER Don’t Let Divorce Derail You

Did you know divorce is a risk factor for suicide? Divorced people are 2.4 times more likely to commit suicide than their married counterparts. That’s some intense data, especially considering taking care of your mental health can be a big task on a good day. During a divorce it can get downright impossible. The good news is that if you know what to look out for you can make a plan to stay on top of your emotional wellbeing before things start to slide downhill. If you’re going through a divorce, watch out for these issues in yourself and apply the associated action items to get yourself back in tip-top shape as soon as possible. PROBLEM - You Feel Alone: Deciding to get a divorce can leave you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. You might feel at a complete loss for what to do next or like there is no way forward. These feelings are normal, but you don’t have to let them stick around. ACTION ITEM: Ask for assistance! Even during a divorce there are always people who are willing to help. You might seek counseling from a therapist who has experience with military families, or maybe a support group is more your speed. If you’re a parent, you could join a parenting group to help you get out of the house. And don’t be afraid to seek other forms of help in your community; check with friends, your local house of worship, and family to find options you may have overlooked. PROBLEM – You’re Finding it Difficult to Cope: Most people thrive on routine and going through a divorce can upset the delicate balance that is our day to day lives. If you’re feeling scattered and disorganized - or perhaps alienated from old activities - there are ways to feel better. 50 / SEPTEMBER 2021

ACTION ITEM: Even the biggest problems in life are solved one step at a time. Don’t try to do too much at once or set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Remember that you’re going through something life-changing, and even the smallest efforts should be celebrated. To decrease stress, try to exercise daily or start a journal to put your feelings to paper. Start a new hobby to keep you busy or volunteer to help people in need. And don’t forget to give yourself a break when you need it – slow and steady wins the race. PROBLEM – You No Longer Qualify for Base Housing: If you’re a military spouse getting a divorce, you might be facing a shocking reality: the loss of your home. Each branch of the military has their own policies regarding the requirements of service members to support family members during a separation, so it can be difficult to know where you stand. ACTION ITEM: It’s easy to get overwhelmed when searching through information online. Instead reach out by telephone to the base legal department to better understand your rights. A military family law attorney should also be able to advise you on this, and many offer free consultations.

PROBLEM – You’re Afraid of Losing Your Kids While Deployed: Like all parents, your first thoughts in a divorce turn to one place: your kids. Dealing with the uncertainty of custody arrangements in a dissolved military marriage can be complicated, especially if one of the parents is deployed. Thankfully, both the military and the state of California have laws in place to protect the wellbeing of your children, no matter what.

ACTION ITEM: The Service Members’ Civil Relief Act provides protections for military members, including for custody issues. This act mandates a ‘stay’ on legal action involving active duty military service members for the first 90 days of their deployment, after which the case is governed under California law. In California, the Court does not view active duty alone as enough reason to change a custody order, so any changes made while a parent is deployed are likely to be temporary. As with any law there are exceptions, such as in cases with family visitation issues and in cases where the child’s welfare is at stake. A good family law attorney will be able to tell advise you further. At the end of the day, divorce is never easy. Being in the military can make it even more complicated. But you owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends to never give up. Even in your darkest moments you are never truly alone. If you’re experiencing thoughts of depression or suicide, reach out to your doctor or the National Suicide Prevention hotline (at 1-800-273-8255) right away.

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

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Call us at (619) 550-1620. / SEPTEMBER 2021


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Choose a Medicare plan that serves those who served You deserve a Medicare plan that always has your back. That’s why UnitedHealthcare® has a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans designed to complement the health benefits you already receive for your service. The UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Patriot plan includes the freedom to visit doctors and hospitals in our large network for a $0 monthly premium.

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1-855-322-1158, TTY 711 You do not have to be a veteran to be eligible for this plan. Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare. Benefits, features and/or devices vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply. Network size varies by market. ©2020 United HealthCare Services, Inc. All rights reserved. Y0066_200911_104349_M SRPJ59083

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The SDVC salutes the Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties / SEPTEMBER 2021


Military and Veteran Caregiver Network: The Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) offers peerbased support and services to connect those providing care to service members and veterans living with wounds, illnesses, injuries and/or aging.

The San Diego Veterans Coalition salutes the Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Serving Those Who Served! In San Diego, and beyond, the American Red Cross helps members of the military, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service. Each year, the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties proudly provides thousands of services to the local military and veteran community through Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. From the First Day of Enlistment, service members and their families are eligible for Red Cross assistance, including: Emergency Services: The Red Cross delivers verified messages during emergencies at home, and provides access to financial assistance and resources. The American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with two options for requesting assistance: online and by phone. For more information, visit herocarenetwork. To speak to a Red Cross Emergency Communications Specialist call: 1-877-272-7337. Information and Referral Services: The Red Cross offers confidential services to all members of the military, veterans, and their families by connecting them with local, state and national resources through its network of chapters in communities across the United States and offices on military installations worldwide. Local Red Cross offices develop and maintain relationships with key community partners. Military families rely on the Red Cross to help them identify their needs and connect them to the most appropriate resources. This key service ranges from responding to emergency needs for food, clothing, and shelter, referrals to counseling services (e.g., financial, legal, mental health), respite care for caregivers, and other resources that meet the unique needs of local military members, veterans and their families. 58 / SEPTEMBER 2021

For general information on the MVCN, email More information can also be found on Facebook at, Twitter at @MilVetCaregiver and Instagram: @milvetcaregivernetwork VA Hospital Programs: Red Cross volunteers work in military hospitals and clinic programs to provide comfort, build morale and enhance therapy programs. Veterans Services: The Red Cross offers confidential services to all veterans and their families by connecting them with local, state and national resources through our network of chapters in communities across the United States and offices on military installations worldwide. The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties develops and maintains relationships with key community partners. Veterans and their families rely on the Red Cross to help them identify their needs and connect them to the most appropriate resources. These vital services range from responding to emergency needs for food, clothing, and shelter, referrals to counseling services (e.g., financial, legal, jobs, mental health), information on veterans cemeteries and burial benefits, and other resources that meet the unique needs of local veterans and their families. Mind-Body Workshops: Mind-Body workshops help participants learn healing techniques using MindBody skills. Mind-Body Workshops offer an alternative method of healing that engages both the mind and body to address common stress reactions that occur within military families and communities. Get to Know Us Before You Need Us: The Red Cross assures military families that help is always available, providing important information at pre-deployment briefings and other outreach events. Through the Red Cross ‘Get To Know Us Before You Need Us’ program, the Red Cross meets with enlistees and their families to share how services can help before, during and after deployment. Coping with Deployments: Whether a family is facing its first deployment or the next of many, the Red Cross has developed workshops, information and support services to help military families with the practical and emotional challenges of deployments and extended periods of separation.

Reconnection Workshops: Reconnection Workshops enhance the likelihood of positive reconnections among family members and successful reengagement of service members and veterans in civilian life. Whether you or a family member have recently entered the military or you are a long-time veteran, navigating the many transitions connected with military and veteran service can be hard. Reconnection Workshops aim to ease the stress that comes with these changes. This free, confidential Red Cross program offers effective ways to work through challenges, improve wellbeing and build skills through small-group discussion and hands-on activities. Workshops help improve connections at home, at work and within communities. We invite active duty service members, members of the Reserves and National Guard, veterans and military families to participate.

To learn more about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, visit To access any of these services through the Hero Care Network, visit, download the Hero Care app by texting GETHEROCARE to 90999, or call a Hero Care specialist at 877-272-7337. You can also become a Service to the Armed Forces volunteer and help the Red Cross fulfill its mission. Visit to learn more The Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties is a strong, vibrant and exemplary supporter of the veteran’s community in San Diego and a proud member of the SDVC. For additional information, please visit “”

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19 Safety First! Our need for volunteers is constant and our guidelines reflect the latest CDC and local-government COVID-19 safety recommendations. You can make a difference by applying for one of our most-needed volunteer positions supporting blood collection or disaster response. We even have a variety of remote (work-from-home) opportunities available. While we do not require volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, we will ask you to report whether you are or are not vaccinated. This personal, confidential information will help us determine appropriate staffing needs. Be sure to review guidance from the CDC for more information, consult your healthcare provider, and follow local guidance. The number one priority of the American Red Cross is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, blood donors and recipients, and the people we serve. FIND URGENTLY NEEDED VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES Explore All Volunteer Opportunities The American Red Cross has an ongoing critical need for blood and platelet donations amidst coronavirus uncertainties. You can make an appointment to give blood or platelets at / SEPTEMBER 2021


Questions? Contact Lori at 60 / SEPTEMBER 2021 / SEPTEMBER 2021


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Resources Support Transition HEALTH Community

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

Voted 2019 & 2020 Best San Diego resource, support magazine for veterans, transitioning military personnel, active military, military families & veteran organizations 64 / SEPTEMBER 2021

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Articles inside

SDVC - Red Cross of San Diego

pages 58-59

HR - The Future of Workplace Ethics

pages 40-41

Enlisted to Entrepreneur: Your Exit Strategy

pages 42-43

Healthcare Careers - A Perfect Fit

pages 48-49

Drone Pilot Training

pages 38-39

What’s Next: Master Your Transition

pages 36-37

Start A Business with Little or No Money

pages 44-45

Legal Eagle - Details Matter

pages 46-47

Preventing Tragedy

pages 34-35

Challenged Athletes Foundation

pages 16-18

An American Hero (Stu Hedley

pages 12-14

Midway Magic - Not Forgotten

pages 10-11

Ride for the Brave

pages 19-21

LENS: Words Matter

pages 28-29

Real Talk: Suicide Prevention - You Matter

pages 26-27

9/11 Always Remember

pages 22-25

Veteran of the Month (Jude Litzenberger

pages 8-9
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