San Diego Veterans March 2019

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Vol. 1 Number 1 • March 2019 Issue

Why Women’s Military History is Important

Women’s History Month Brain Injury Awareness VetCaregiver Self Check-In




Enlisted To Entrepreneur


“Welcome Home” Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration

To Civilian Life

LEGAL EAGLE Military Money

I AM A VETERAN Resources • Support • Community • Transition • Inspiration San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 1 | 760-753-7907 | 711 Center Drive | San Marcos Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. GEICO Gecko image Š 1999-2018. Š 2018 GEICO


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

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San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

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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 resources, support, community, and inspiration for our veterans and the military families that keep it together. Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with our veterans, service members, military families, and civilians. The magazine is supported by a distinguishing list of San Diego veteran organizations, resource centers, coalitions, veteran advocates, and more. We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people. When I tell people that we are launching a magazine for our San Diego community veterans, the response is “It’s about time”! And I couldn’t agree more. We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of San Diego Veterans Magazine Magazine.

Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers Holly Shaffner - Honor Flight RanDee McLain, LCSW Vicki Garcia - Enlisted CJ Machado Shya Ellis-Flint - VCC VANC - Lori Boody Eva M. Stimson - STS Kelly Bagla. Esq. - Legal Joe Molina - VCCSD Lara Ryan Daniel Chavarria DAV - Dan Clare Shelly Dew Andrea Christensen Brett Hart Dubois - Father Jo’es

Public Relations CJ Machado Mike Miller Marketing/Sales Mike Miller 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.

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

858.275-4281 Contact us at:

With warmest thanks, Mike Miller, Publisher 6

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019


INSIDE THIS ISSUE 8 San Diego Enforcers 10 San Diego Gulls - Shelter to Soldier 12 A Different Lens 14 Brain Awareness Month 16 VetCaregiver Check-In 18 Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration 22 I AM A VETERAN 27 Father Joe’s Village 29 Living Proof - ALIVE DAY 30 Why Women’s History is Important


32 Clever Talks Interview - Women Warriors 35 San Diego Women Veterans Network 36 Why I Do What I Do 40 Always Do What is Right - STEP March is

44 VANC - New American Legion Post 760


46 American Legion Turning 100


48 LEGAL EAGLE - Legal Tips 49 Military Money 50 Enlisted to Entrepreneur 54 Transitioning to Civilian Life - ABC’s 56 Higher Education Tips - Military Veterans 58 Homelessness - Can We Help 59 San Diego Veterans Coalition San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 7

Back for 20th Season A Tradition of Community Leadership

“I am so excited to continue the tradition of the San Diego Enforcers by serving our communities’ charities through the game of football. Our program has always been built on three pillars….Creating a family for public servants, raising money for charity and winning football games. We have a great group of men this year to see that through”. - John Buckley President and Head Coach of the San Diego Enforcers

By RanDee McLain Are you missing football already? Just when the Superbowl ends each year, another league is getting started. Comprised of 21 teams throughout the country, the National Public Safety Football League (NPSFL) plays semi-professional, full-contact football and raises money for their selected charities. Every player is a sworn member of law enforcement, first responders or active duty military. San Diego has had a team since 1999. Their colors are red and black and they are the San Diego Enforcers. They are two-time National Champions and sixtime Western Division Champions. For 20 years, the Enforcers have been playing semi-professional football and giving back to their local community. This year, after 19 amazing years the head Coach, Brian Salmon, has decided to hang up his cleats and retire. The team did not have to look far to find the best candidate to fill the role of head coach. John Buckley has been with the San Diego Enforcers since 2012 and in 2015 he took the helm as the President of the San Diego Enforcers. In the 2019 season John will serve as the President and Head Coach of the San Diego Enforcers. If anyone can take on this impressive dual role it is John. 8

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

He works full-time as a U.S. Marshall and in his “free time” he volunteers to lead the nonprofit organization. And giving back to the community is what this nonprofit organization loves to do. Since their inception, they have donated over $200,000 to United Cerebral Palsy, Susan G. Komen, San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation and many military organizations such as Semper Fi, Team Red, White and Blue and the Travis Manion Foundation. Honor Flight San Diego, the organization which takes WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., was named the 2017/2018 military charity and they have been selected again for the 2019 season. Many of the players for the San Diego Enforcers are also veterans of the US military and continue their service to our community through a second career in law enforcement. One of those players is number 99, Emery Langley. Emery is a USMC veteran and a proud member of the San Diego Police Department.

“From one uniform to the next, playing for the San Diego Enforcers has given us an opportunity to give back to our community even more. From traveling the nation, to building a brotherhood and playing the sport we all love”

The Enforcers give back to the local community in more ways than through donations. They make visits to hospitals to cheer-up sick patients and they participate in the annual Holiday Celebration for Kaiser Kids with Cancer; most importantly they do it as a family. The Enforcer family is made up of football players, coaches, support staff, and the best dance team in the NPSFL – the Enforcer Girls! The EGs, as they are called, have performed internationally and a few of the dancers have gone on to become Charger girls. The team raises money in a variety of ways each season and just like a family everyone chips in. The players pay a fee to play on the team, the Enforcer Girls sell their annual swimsuit calendar, the team hosts an annual golf tournament in May. On game days they sell Enforcer merchandise, concessions, and hold a 50/50 raffle. They also rely on corporate sponsors throughout the country. Since every player, coach, board member, EG, and support staff is a volunteer, every dollar raised supports team logistics and ultimately goes back to the charities they support. The Enforcers kick off their season with a home game on Saturday, February 16th , against the LA Sherriff’s Department and a few weeks later they host the Chicago Fire Department in the annual “Salute to Service” game on March 23rd.

The “Salute to Service” game is a special game each year where the team takes time to recognize those that are currently serving and those that have served in the US military. Players and staff from both teams will be recognized during the game. During halftime, WWII veterans will be honored for their service and proceeds from this game will benefit Honor Flight San Diego and pay for WWII veterans to make the trip to Washington, D.C. This season the Enforcers will play three home games and two away games. Tickets can be purchased at the gate and are just $10. To learn more about the San Diego Enforcers, to volunteer with the organization or at a game, to become a sponsor, or donate to the team, go to: You can also find the San Diego Enforcers and the Enforcer Girls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Come out this season and support the best football team in San Diego!

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 9

San Diego Gulls Announce 2019 “Pucks & Paws” Calendar to Benefit Shelter to Soldier by Eva M. Stimson

All Photo’s by © Allison Shamrell Pet Photography 10

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

The American Hockey League is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League. The local team, San Diego Gulls, is launching their 2019 annual calendar to benefit Shelter to Soldier, featuring 14 Gulls players with Shelter to Soldier service dogs on each calendar month of the year. This is the second consecutive year that the San Diego Gulls Foundation has selected Shelter to Soldier as their charity of choice for the calendar project. Sponsored this year by Raising Cane’s, the “Pucks & Paws Calendar” is available for sale in person at a San Diego Gulls game and through the DASH Auctions mobile App; all proceeds will be donated to Shelter to Soldier, a San Diego-based non-profit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Disorder (TBI) and/ or other afflictions associated with traumatic combat experiences. “The San Diego Gulls Foundation, members of the Gulls Team and their significant others and Raising Cane’s, all worked to put on a different kind of game face in an effort to share the story of Shelter to Soldier. Together we thank all for supporting a cause that is near and dear to their hearts as dog owners and supporters of our local military families,” said Melissa Werman, Director of Community Relations for the San Diego Gulls. Unsigned copies of the calendar are available for $15 and a limited number of autographed copies are available for $30 each. In addition, the San Diego Gulls are extending an invitation to a “Pucks & Paws” VIP Meet Up and Dog Party on Sunday, March 10th, with a donation of $50 that includes an autographed copy of the calendar. Additional “Pucks & Paws” VIP event information will be provided to those who qualify by February 1, 2019. Raising Cane’s will be catering the VIP event. According to Mica Brandt, Raising Cane’s Marketing Advisor, “Raising Cane’s is thrilled to partner with both the San Diego Gulls and Shelter to Solider --- we’re committed to supporting our local community organizations that align with our company philosophies of Athletics, Education and Pet Welfare. The work that both organizations do to support the community and our military is commendable, and it’s an honor to align with both to raise funds to help our military receive the support they deservingly need through service dogs.” While supplies last, calendars may be purchased in section 10 on the concourse at a San Diego Gulls game or via their mobile action app ‘DASH Auctions’ (available for iOS and Android users) as a ‘Buy it Now’ item.

© Allison Shamrell Pet Photography

Visit to access or to download the DASH Auctions App on a mobile device, text “Dash” to 66866. (All calendars purchased on DASH will require a handling fee of 3 percent. The calendar will be mailed to the billing address provided in the payment information section. Calendars will be mailed within three business days to the address provided at payment unless otherwise notified). Shelter to Soldier Co-Founder and President Graham Bloem comments, “We’re extremely honored and grateful that the San Diego Gulls have selected STS for a second year as the charity-recipient of their calendar program for 2019. The funds raised from calendar sales will be utilized to help serve the deserving veterans who are waiting to be paired with a psychiatric service dog through our program. The amount of applicants reaching out for assistance continues to grow, and we could not fulfill each request without the help and support of our partners, such as the San Diego Gulls, Raising Cane’s and Allison Shamrell Photography. Each sponsored service dog serves the critical role of psychological support to his/her veteran handler and our sponsors help us make this happen.” To learn more about veteran-support services provided by STS, call (855) 287-8659 for a confidential interview regarding eligibility. Shelter to Soldier CoFounder, Graham Bloem, is the proud recipient of the 10News Leadership Award, The Red Cross San Diego/ Imperial Counties Real Heroes Award, Honeywell Life Safety Award, CBS8 News Change It Up Award, and the 2016 Waggy Award. Additionally, Shelter to Soldier is a gold participant of GuideStar and accredited by the Patriot’s Initiative. San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 11

A Different Lens Mental Health Monthly By RanDee McLain, LCSW Why a different lens? Prior to enlisting in the US Navy I worked for a police department for many years. Once I became a sailor I served as a maser-at-arms……. military police officer. Fast forward several years and deployments later it was time to become a ‘civilian’. Those of us who have served know you will never truly be a civilian. You are no longer active but you will never truly be a civilian. Our experiences have forever altered the way we see the world. I was lost….I lost my sense of identity, purpose and this was compounded by physical and mental challenges I faced as I transitioned.

I have committed my professional life to helping my brothers and sisters as they transition. All of these experiences both as an Active Duty sailor and as a mental health clinician have led me to have a unique and different lens of the world, the struggles we face and the fellow veterans we serve. With each addition of the Different Lens I hope to educate you on many of the mental health challenges our service members, veterans and their families may face. These include Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) to name a few.

I went to school because that seemed like the next logical step. A few degrees, several years and hard work later I attained my licensure and the title Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

We will also look at some non-mental health related subjects that impact transition such as underemployment and resource navigation and so much more.

I currently oversee a large outpatient mental health clinic.

I hope you will tune in for future additions of “A Different Lens”


March is


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019


2nd Annual

Protecting Athletes & Veterans from Concussion & CTE March 2, 2019 4:00pm-10:00pm $85/person | $630/table (8 per table) Keynote Speaker: Dr. Robert Stern Guest Speaker: Dr. Michael Lobatz Formal / Ball / Full / Blue Dress attire Veterans Association of North County 1617 Mission Ave, Oceanside CA 92058

Tickets available at Contact Mary Seau 760.672.6057 or for more information.



501(c)3 Non Profit

Designed by Kamali’i Peneku

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 13

Every March, during Brain Injury Awareness month, the Defense Department works to increase awareness of traumatic brain injury in the military. At work and home, whether they are deployed, training, or simply having fun off-duty, service members are at an increased risk for brain injury.


March is


Defense Department focuses on Brain Injury Awareness Month in March By Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Lynita Mullins and Haley Cedarleaf Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

Every March, during Brain Injury Awareness month, the Defense Department works to increase awareness of traumatic brain injury in the military. At work and home, whether they are deployed, training, or simply having fun off-duty, service members are at an increased risk for brain injury. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 383,947 service members received a TBI diagnosis from 2000 until the first quarter of 2018. Of those, 82.3 percent were mild TBIs, also known as concussions. It’s unknown how many service members actually experience a concussion because many fail to seek medical attention. 14

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

One Veteran’s TBI Story Mike, a veteran and San Diego resident, joined the Marine Corps in 2000 as a 7212 low-altitude air defense gunner. When asked if he ever had a concussion during his time in service, he was hesitant in his response. “I did get hit in the face with a rifle and was said to have a minor one,” he said. “I wasn’t knocked out, just saw stars.” When recalling his injury, Mike remembers going to sickbay for the laceration above his eye and that his medical report only noted the cut. Though not diagnosed, because Mike saw stars he likely experienced a concussion. According to Mike, TBI wasn’t exactly on his radar, especially if a corpsman wasn’t around. He recalled another occasion following a mortar attack.

“One night, we were performing a no-light perimeter check as we had just been mortared,” he said. “We had a vehicle go into a ditch that threw everyone out of the vehicle and a few of the guys were knocked silly, but I don’t think any of them went to sickbay because we had to extract the vehicle and continue on.” Luckily, for Mike and members of his unit, most TBI symptoms start improving immediately and resolve completely within weeks, but that’s not always the case. What about those in Mike’s story who were “knocked silly”? TBI Evaluation, Treatment DVBIC, a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development directorate, works to standardize TBI diagnosis and treatment, and rapidly translate emerging science into methods and practice. Today corpsmen, medics and other medical staff train with clinical tools such as the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation, developed by DVBIC in 2006. The MACE 2 (revised, released in 2019) helps front-line medical staff quickly screen for concussion. It also includes red flags to help providers assess if patients need further evaluation, or urgent evacuation to a military hospital or clinic. As TBI research and breakthroughs emerge, the Military Health System continues to improve TBI care through innovative programs such as the TBI Fast Track program at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The program follows a streamlined interdisciplinary approach. Within seven business days, specialists provide extensive intake interviews, screenings, and focused evaluations to patients referred to the program. Program providers gather weekly to discuss each patient and address potential concerns or gaps in care. Transitioning TBI Care Service members such as Mike who transition out of the military into the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system, need to know there are agencies and programs that can help. The DVBIC TBI Recovery Support Program, for example, connects service members, veterans, and family members with recovery support specialists who help track symptoms and connect patients to medical and non-medical support services. Service members in San Diego with TBI who transfer from the Defense Department to VA, will transition to the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The Polytrauma Support Clinic team there evaluates, educates, and directs outpatient care for patients with persistent, but stable, symptoms related to TBI.

Providers will refer patients with more severe cases to VA Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers or Polytrauma Network Sites around the country. TBI Awareness is Key The first step in recovery from a TBI is recognizing the causes and the symptoms, and seeking medical advice as soon as possible after a head injury. If you, or those you know, experience a potential head injury, seek appropriate medical care. Early detection of brain injury leads to early treatment; early treatment leads to better outcomes. Common symptoms following a concussion include: • headaches • dizziness • sleep disturbances • vision changes • balance problems • fatigue • attention and memory problems • irritability and mood changes For more information about TBI, check these online resources: DVBIC – Download TBI fact sheets and find other helpful resources from the DVBIC website at “A Head for the Future” (a DVBIC initiative that raises awareness of TBI signs, symptoms and treatment.) – Watch videos of members of the military community sharing their experiences with TBI, and download other resources at Military Health System Brain Injury Awareness Month Webpage –

About the Authors: Navy Cmdr. Lynita Mullins is an active-duty physician. Currently, she is a staff physician at Naval Medical Center San Diego, the Department Head for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation/Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5), TBI medical director, and NMCSD DVBIC site director. Haley Cedarleaf is the regional education coordinator for the NMCSD DVBIC network site. She provides TBI education and training across Defense Department and VA sites throughout Southern California, Arizona, and the Pacific. San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 15

Month of the Military Caregiver



HOMELAND / June 2015

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

So often as caregivers, we are running so hard,

putting ourselves last, and not realizing we are burnt out until we fall ill. Or, we know we’re overwhelmed, but we accept it without question. What happens when the caregiver is down for the count - the wheels have a tendency to come off, don’t they? Make a promise to yourself to Check-In at least weekly. Better yet, do the same with a trusted caregiver or friend as an “accountability partner” so you don’t neglect to consider your own health. Ask these questions to start: · Am I eating well? Skipping meals, snacking too much? · Do I laugh each day? Red flag if you don’t find something amusing each day, even if you don’t laugh out loud. How many times do we text LOL, but not DO it? · Am I drinking enough water? Do I exist on coffee and soda instead? · Do I spend quiet time, reflective time, prayer, or meditation each day? · Am I sleeping well or enough? · Do I get exercise each day? · Do I interact with others each day? In-person is preferable, but at least by phone to hear a voice or online if all else fails. If you’re aware that you’re not checking in, or struggling when you do, we urge you to talk to someone professionally. Many physicians are only now realizing the strain caregivers carry and how to assist you, but it’s growing. Seek community resources such as faithbased counseling, or call Give An Hour (www. for cost-free help. Life is so precious and perhaps you cannot change your situation, but you can change aspects of taking care of you. Caregivers are the heartbeat of the family, and make the active choice to care for you. HOMELAND / June 2015 15

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HNC Honors Vets Every Day, in Several Meaningful Ways … Our March 30th “Welcome Home” Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration Will Be Very Special!



San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Full details of the 10am-1pm event are at

PLEDGE San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 19

HNC Honors Vets Every Day, in Several Meaningful Ways … Our March 30th “Welcome Home” Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration Will Be Very Special! by Shelly Dew, Director of Philanthropy, Hospice of the North Coast Every day of the year, we at Carlsbad-based Hospice of the North Coast (HNC) are supremely honored to serve our sizable and esteemed cohort of terminally ill veterans who selflessly served our country. March 30, 2019 will be a special day, which we will devote to our second “Welcome Home” Vietnam Veterans Day celebration recognizing the heroism and sacrifice of the men and women who served in various military branches during this tumultuous conflict. HNC is presenting the celebration, in collaboration with Veterans Association of North County (VANC) and Veterans Benefits Administration, at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. The event is free to vets and their families; it is our “gift” and one that we are eager to share. We were delighted to welcome more than 300 people to our inaugural 2018 celebration. There was not an empty seat or, at times, a dry eye in the house at VANC’s spacious Oceanside facility. The overwhelming, positive response resulted in our move this year to the larger Academy setting. Ensuring Access to Veteran-Centric Care HNC is a Level Four We Honor Veterans (WHV) provider through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) focused on continually improving the end-of-life care veterans receive. The need in our region is significant. Some 70 percent of males in San Diego County age 65 and older are veterans. Many need or will soon need hospice care. HNC has the organizational capacity to ensure that these folks have access to veteran-centric care. We understand the unique circumstances and needs that set veterans apart from non-military patients, and can address challenges related to their service, and its aftermath.


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Our dedication begins at the top. Executive Director Sharon Lutz’s brother-in-law was a Vietnam vet who died at age 42 from renal cell cancer possibly caused by Agent Orange. She states, “Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the service vets have given. Being able to honor them, care for and about them, and share their stories as they approach the end of life is a beautiful privilege for us.” Our WHV efforts encompass an array of programs. We are a partner in the Vietnam War Commemoration and perform poignant Honor Salutes to groups of veterans in facilities and to individuals at home.

With the help of active duty Camp Pendleton staff, a dying veteran receives a final Salute. For some Vietnam vets who returned home years ago often to jeers instead of cheers, the Salute engenders tears of joy. A recent memorable Salute was given to a feisty nonagenarian, who thanks to HNC hospice care has been able to joyfully live out her remaining days in her comfy Carlsbad home permeated with decades of memories, including her Air Force adventure in the late 1930s. About her service, Norma Walker succinctly confided, “I enjoyed the marching exercises, but when I learned that I could rise no farther than a secretarial level and was given the choice to re-enlist or opt out, I left.” One of HNC’s most heartwarming efforts we call Vetto-Vet. We connect former military personnel who are hospice care volunteers (some in their 80s and 90s!) with our terminally ill vets. They share a warm bond and speak the same “language.” Even a crusty career guy will be able to unburden himself, smile, laugh and recall times both good and bad with someone he knows instinctively understands and accepts him. We are very fortunate to present Jimmie W. Spencer, retired Army Command Sergeant Major (CSM), as our keynote speaker. Beginning in 1961, CSM Spencer devoted 32 years to active military service, including assignments with Special Forces and Ranger Units.

He currently serves as a consultant with the Vietnam War Commemoration. As we look forward to 2020 when we will celebrate four decades of providing comprehensive, compassionate hospice care to individuals, families and the community, we want people attending our March 30th event and all veterans and their families to know they can rely upon Hospice of the North Coast for programs and support that meet their specific needs. We have the expertise and the genuine desire to guide vets as we accompany them on their path toward a peaceful ending. Please Join Our Celebration It’s all about acceptance, and that’s what our March 30th Welcome Home celebration centers on. Acceptance is a theme of the event: accepting what you did, saw, experienced and who you are because of – not in spite of – these things. Full details of the 10am-1pm event are at In addition to a program, delicious lunch, and the opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow vets, one exciting highlight will be a live aerial parachute demonstration executed by the Black Daggers U.S. Army Special Ops.

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 21

“You may not know me the first time we meet I’m just another you see on the street But I am the reason you walk and breathe free I am the reason for your liberty”...

I AM A Artist - Brittany Gneiting 22

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

VETERAN Artist - Saul Hansen

Continued on Next Page > San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 23

I AM A VETERAN by Andrea Christensen Brett

You may not know me the first time we meet I’m just another you see on the street But I am the reason you walk and breathe free I am the reason for your liberty I AM A VETERAN I work in the local factory all day I own the restaurant just down the way I sell you insurance, I start your IV I’ve got the best-looking grandkids you’ll ever see I’m your grocer, your banker Your child’s schoolteacher I’m your plumber, your barber Your family’s preacher But there’s part of me you don’t know very well Just listen a moment, I’ve a story to tell

I came home and moved on But forever was changed The perils of war in my memory remained I don’t really say much, I don’t feel like I can But I left home a child, and came home a man There are thousands like me Thousands more who are gone But their legacy lives as time marches on White crosses in rows And names carved in queue Remind us of what these brave souls had to do I’m part of a fellowship, a strong mighty band Of each man and each woman Who has served this great land And when Old Glory waves I stand proud, I stand tall I helped keep her flying over you, over all

I AM A VETERAN I joined the service while still in my teens I traded my prom dress for camouflage greens I’m the first in my family to do something like this I followed my father, like he followed his Defying my fears and hiding my doubt I married my sweetheart before I shipped out I missed Christmas, then Easter The birth of my son But I knew I was doing what had to be done

Artist - Elizabeth Moug

I served on the battlefront, I served on the base I bound up the wounded And begged for God’s grace I gave orders to fire, I followed commands I marched into conflict in far distant lands In the jungle, the desert, on mountains and shores In bunkers, in tents, on dank earthen floors While I fought on the ground, in the air, on the sea My family and friends were home praying for me For the land of the free and the home of the brave I faced my demons in foxholes and caves Then one dreaded day, without drummer or fife I lost an arm, my buddy lost his life Artist - Blake Davis 24

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

“I AM A VETERAN” Poem Background Notes By Andrea C. Brett

One of the greatest privileges my family and I have enjoyed since we began performing in Branson, Missouri many years ago, is meeting the veterans who come to our show every single day. As I have spoken with many of these men and women over the years, I have discovered time and time again that some of the most amazing and inspiring stories of sacrifice and service to our country come from the most common people. Without their uniform to distinguish them from everyone else in the crowd, they look just like you and I. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and backgrounds, yet they share one very important bond – military service to the greatest country on earth. Behind each of their faces and in each of their hearts is a story that most likely has gone untold or unheralded. Most of them believe that their contribution was small – just part of their duty – but it is these individual efforts that have combined into a mighty force for freedom. These stories, in combination, make up the bigger story of America itself - a story of courage, sacrifice, faith, honor, love, and the commitment to preserve and protect Her precious liberties. The poem “I am a Veteran” was written to pay tribute to those who have written this story. Each line or phrase in the poem is the voice of one of these men or women; each represents an actual person that I have met or have been told about. The poem is not about one veteran, but each and all. The words represent only a sampling of the diverse experiences of our veterans - it would be impossible to cover them all – therefore, it is intended more to symbolize the sacrifice of all veterans and to honor them for the service they each performed. The poem was also written to cause anyone who reads or hears it to become more aware of each man or woman they encounter in their everyday comings and goings. Maybe he or she is a veteran. Maybe he or she had a part in securing my freedoms. Maybe this “common” person has performed uncommon service in my behalf. If so, the ground we share in our daily walk is truly sacred ground.

I have been told by many veterans that my poem has given them a voice. This is the highest compliment I could possibly receive. It is an honor to speak for any of these noble men and women who have given so much. It is with deepest gratitude and humility that I offer “I am a Veteran” as my gift to these great Americans.

Artist - Blake Davis

Book Cover - Karson Knudsen

The “I Am a Veteran” poem is now the text for a beautiful hard cover, coffee table book. The book features 45 stunning hand drawn, color illustrations that dramatically and sensitively depict each line of the poem. It is the perfect gift for veterans and their families. For more information, visit Enter promo code SD VETS at checkout, for a special discount offered exclusively to San Diego Veterans Magazine readers. San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 25


For nearly 70 years, Father Joe’s Villages has been taking care of the immediate needs of homeless Veterans, while also helping end their homelessness for good. Call 1-619-HOMELESS or visit NEIGHBOR.ORG to learn more.


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Father Joe’s Villages

Protecting the health and well-being of San Diego’s Veterans by Hart Dubois San Diego is home to the largest Veteran population in the nation. Unfortunately, San Diego also has the second largest population of Veterans experiencing homelessness. Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest non-profit homeless services provider is committed to protecting the health and well-being of San Diego’s Veterans, so they can enjoy the freedoms they helped to preserve. Their programs give Veterans the opportunity to benefit from support catered to their specific experiences and to connect with other service men and women. By providing housing, comprehensive services and support, Father Joe’s Villages gives hope to our heroes that they won’t be left behind. With a vision to prevent and end homelessness for Veterans in San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages provides customized solutions to address each Veteran’s unique needs. Veterans like Alan, a 72-year-old Army Veteran who served on active duty and spent 27 years in the Reserves. After his time serving his country, Alan spent 30 years working as an Administrative Specialist at UCLA. Once retired, he struggled to maintain consistent affordable housing, spending more than five years living in a van and experiencing homelessness on the streets. “It’s very difficult,” Allen explained. “Living in a van might be okay for the younger set. But when you’re older, it has a lot of wear and tear on you... It was very uncomfortable.” After going to Father Joe’s Villages, Alan met the qualifications for their Rapid Rehousing program for Veterans. The Rapid Rehousing team helps people locate affordable housing that meets their needs. Once appropriate housing is located, the program provides short-term rental assistance and in-home supportive services to help people achieve lasting housing stability. Alan worked directly with a Housing Locator to find an apartment in downtown San Diego. In 2018, Father Joe’s Villages served over 1,800 Veterans like Alan. Two of their Veterans programs provide specialized care to homeless Veterans with complicated medical and mental health issues. One of those programs, the Safe Haven program, is specifically designed to help Veterans who need intensive care due to serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. The program provides intensive case management that is essential to meet the higher needs of these clients. Safe Haven clients receive the assistance necessary to have their individual needs met while empowering them to be able to meet their own needs in the future.

Case managers help with daily activities such as refilling prescriptions and arranging transportation to appointments to more daunting tasks such as helping meet the requirements of long term care programs such as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing or an assisted living facility. Another Veteran program at Father Joe’s Villages is the Hospital to Housing program. Hospital to Housing is just what the name implies: it is a transitional housing program that prevents homeless veterans who are being released from the hospital from ending up back on the streets. The Hospital to Housing program gives these veterans a safe place to recuperate and case management services to help them attain permanent housing. Instead of the veterans returning to the streets while they are in a vulnerable state of poor health, Hospital to Housing gives them a roof over their head, warm meals and the case management support they need to find a place of their own. Father Joe’s Villages gives continued support to those men and women who’ve served this country even after they find housing. Alumnus of the Veterans’ programs can come back to the East Village campus each week to attend the weekly Veterans’ Lunch. It gives them a chance to see friends and share in the comradery that the military brought to their life throughout the years. Alan is in regularly attendance at the Veterans Lunches. “The people that work with Father Joe’s are devoted people,” he said. “To help homeless people find a place, find a job and to make them happier. That’s worth its weight in gold.” This country’s service men and women have bravely committed their lives to protecting our country. When veterans don’t have access to secure housing and integrated services, they are denied the chance to prosper in civilian life. Father Joe’s Villages believes that veterans deserve respect, compassion and targeted programs that fulfill their immediate needs and give them the tools they can use for a brighter future. San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 27




VIETNAM VETERANS DAY CELEBRATION Join Hospice of the North Coast, VANC and Veterans Benefit Administration in thanking and honoring Veterans of the Vietnam War for their service and sacrifice, including personnel held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, and their families.

Keynote Speaker:

Jimmie W. Spencer Retired Army Command Sergeant Major Spencer devoted 32 years to active military service, including assignments with Special Forces and Ranger Units. He currently serves as a consultant with the Vietnam War Commemoration. Live aerial parachute demonstration performed by The Black Daggers US Army Special Ops








Limited street parking. FREE shuttle service is available from Carlsbad Village Station parking lot. (2775 State St., Carlsbad, CA 92008) Consider riding NCTD’s COASTER to the event!

Presented by


For reservations and information: Shelly Dew 760.431.4100 28

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019


Living Proof As the commemoration of the Vietnam War is now nearly at its midpoint, triple amputee Jim Sursley marks the 50th anniversary of his “Alive Day” By D. Clare


im Sursely had never thought about joining the military, but in May 1966, war was on the minds of many. Driving down the street in his hometown of Rochester, Minn., Sursely saw a sign that said, “Uncle Sam needs you.” He went to an Army recruiter and within three months was inducted into the military. He arrived in Vietnam in March 1968, a month after the beginning of the Tet Offensive. In mid-February, American forces had experienced their bloodiest week of the war, with 543 Americans killed and 2,547 wounded. In January of the following year, on the 11th of the month, he was setting up for a night operation, making sure his unit’s Claymore mines were in place. “I stepped on a land mine, which resulted in the amputation of both of my legs and my left arm,” he said, noting that the force of the blast and the accompanying

Sursely, seen here meeting in 2004 with Brian Kolfage after his injury, continues to serve as a mentor to veterans returning from the recent wars.

fireball actually saved his life, Jim Sursely was just weeks away cauterizing from returning from his combat tour when a land mine southwest of his wounds Da Nang traumatically amputated nearly as fast as three of his limbs. He went on they removed to achieve success as a father, his limbs. “I business owner and, ultimately, remember going as national commander of DAV. up in the air, coming back down and lying flat on my back. And I remember reaching down with my good right hand, and I touched what would be like midthigh on my right leg, which kind of gave me a feeling that I was probably okay and still intact. I had absolutely no idea that I’d lost [three] limbs at that point.” In that same instant, the plans Sursely had for his future were forever changed. Several weeks and 12 major surgeries later, he regained consciousness. While thankful to be alive, Sursely was in shock about his future back home. Fifty years after his life-changing injury, Sursley is the top active realtor in the Apopka, Fla., community, which he calls home. He joined DAV (Disabled American Veterans) in 1970, rising through the ranks until being elected national commander of the millionplus member organization in 2004. He has spent much of that time as a mentor to other amputees. He recalls sitting alongside the bed of Brian Kolfage, the first triple amputee he’d met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, just weeks after the young man’s injury. “Look, I’ve been in the chair now for more than 30 years,” he told Kolfage “Believe me, if you want a whole and interesting life, you can still have that. I’m living proof that it’s possible, and I’m no different than you are.” ■

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 29

“The value of knowing women’s stories is that it gives all of us—women and men, girls and boys—the power and inspiration to succeed.” - Karen R. Price National Women’s History Alliance

Elizabeth L. Remba Gardner, Women’s Airforce Service Pilots 30

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Why Women’s History is Important

Building on these successes were the women who enlisted during World War I, and again in World War II, serving in an increasingly wider range of duties like service pilots and maintenance workers.

by Karen R. Price National Women’s History Alliance board member

When Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris, was interviewed by Ebony Magazine in 1992, she spoke about being the first African-American female General in the US Air Force. “For me, being the first is just a matter of time.” She recognized the importance of acknowledging that her successes were built on the efforts of those who came before her. “They have done a tremendous job of opening doors and proving capabilities.”

Patriotism and the desire to serve one’s country in times of conflict have never been limited to men. Women have taken up the cause in one capacity or another since the Revolutionary War. And while the door to official military service may have been closed to many of them, women have always found a way to contribute. Some, such as Deborah Sampson or Cathay Williams, disguised themselves as men to fight. Others, like Molly Pitcher, served in an unofficial role, helping where they were needed. March is Women’s History Month, and that means it’s time to celebrate important women in American history. We at the National Women’s History Alliance are, as you might expect, very busy this time of year. It is our mission to discover and share the stories of women in history and to change the dangerous perception that women in the past did not do anything worthwhile. We intend to “write women back into history.” Many of these celebrations focus on the important “firsts,” such as the first woman to enlist as a non-nurse Naval Yeoman (Loretta Perfectus Walsh, 1917). Others celebrate the many first women to advance into higher ranks, such as the first woman promoted to Brig. General (Anna Mae Hays, 1970). Recognizing and celebrating these milestone achievements is crucial to creating a more complete understanding of American history. Equally important, though, are the stories of the countless women whose service didn’t break down a barrier, but nonetheless contributed to the pressure for increased involvement of women. The women whose quiet dedication to country served as inspiration to countless others paved the way for more opportunities for those who came next. In the Revolutionary Era, it is unknown how many women followed their soldier husbands and brothers, and whose work, though critical to military success, went unpaid and unrecognized. Coming after these women were the civilian nurses and spies who aided the Union during the Civil War. And behind them were the hundreds of women serving officially in the Army Nurse Corps tending wounded and sick soldiers in the Spanish-American War.




1. First all-female C-130 crew to fly a combat mission 2. Molly Pitcher depicted in 1859 engraving - 3. Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris First African-American female General in the US Air Force

If progress is a torch handed from one generation to the next, this torch has been moving forward since 1776, carried by laundresses and cooks, nurses and spies, pilots and soldiers. Each new generation of women has been inspired by the previous, adding their voices to the call for a fair chance to show their mettle. The brave women in today’s military themselves will be passing the torch to future generations, with the knowledge that the work they inherited from the generations before them will continue. The value of knowing women’s stories is that it gives all of us—women and men, girls and boys—the power and inspiration to succeed. Knowing women’s history enables us to understand the past more clearly, and that will give us the power to change the future.

“Our history is our strength.” San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 31

LOCAL MILITARY NONPROFIT DEBUTS FIRST ANNUAL WOMEN WARRIORS CONFERENCE On Saturday March 30, 2019, Clever Talks will host their first annual Women Warriors Conference. In Downtown San Diego. To learn more about this momentous occasion, San Diego Veterans Magazine caught up with Co-Founder and Vice President of Clever Talks, Hillary Manalac.

San Diego Veterans Magazine:​Tell us, what is Clever Talks? Hillary: ​Clever Talks is a 501c3 non-profit organization that aims to boost morale and personal development of our active duty military members and veterans through shared ideas and stories. Throughout these past 6 years, Clever Talks has hosted several events that provide that platform for military, veterans and entrepreneurs to share the stage to inspire and empower those who are starting their transition out of the military. San Diego Veterans Magazine: ​What made you want to start Clever Talks? Hillary: A ​ s a family member and friend of several military service men and women, I have seen the sacrifice that they continuously make for our freedom. It has been mine and my business partner Chir Soriano’s life goal to give back to our military as a token of our appreciation and gratitude. Unfortunately, often times, veterans find themselves at a lost after transitioning out of the military. As civilians, it is our duty to let those brave men and women know that the skills they learned and refined in the military are applicable in the work civilian world. San Diego Veterans Magazine:​After six years, why did Clever Talks decide to host a Women Warriors Conference now? Hillary: ​Throughout the past six years, organically Clever Talks has gained a following that is primarily male dominated. So naturally, many of our past events attracted a male dominated attendance. It is a pattern that as the Co-Founder of Clever Talks and woman, I have noticed and our female followers have noticed.


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Therefore it became our mission to host an inspirational event for the bravest women of our country. Under the direction of our Director of Operations, Zach Gomez, Clever Talks has been able to see this vision come to fruition. With 2019 being a big year for Clever Talks, we wanted to start it off with an event that our following has not had the chance to experience before. San Diego Veterans Magazine: ​What can the public expect to experience at this event? Hillary:​The public is in for a treat! Attendees will be able to listen to inspirational talks from San Diego’s top influential women leaders and veterans, such as the Women’s March San Diego Organizers, President of the San Diego Women Veteran Network - Billiekai Boughton, Executive Director of Foundation for Women Warriors Jodie Grenier, ​President and Founder of Women Veterans Alliance -​M ​ elissa Washington, a ​ nd special guest S ​ enator Toni G. Atkins - President Pro-Tempore of California Senate San Diego Veterans Magazine: ​That sounds amazing! Is there anything else attendees can expect? Hillary:​Yes! We have so much more to offer women veterans and those who support them. Attendees will be able to enjoy food and beverages from ​ Boochcraft Kombucha, Coronado Brewery, Health-Ade Kombucha, and food from military spouse owned By Rosaline. Attendees will also have the chance to leave the event with an exclusive Women Warriors gifts that are provided by veteran owned businesses. Veteran and women owned company, Lazer Ladies will be providing engraved items only available at the event. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to win several raffle items valued at $100 plus. Veteran owned companies, Combat Flip Flops and Original Grain have provided giveaway items in support of their fellow women warriors. Local San Diego gems Park 101, Paru Tea and The Children’s Museum will also be providing items to be raffled off. San Diego Veterans Magazine:​How can the public get tickets? Hillary: ​Like and Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@clevertaks) to find the link to our eventbrite page. The public can also check out our website to get up-to-date details on all of our upcoming events. San Diego Veterans Magazine concluded the interview with Hillary, with exclusive information to our readers. To show appreciation to our readers, Hillary informed us that Clever Talks is offering an exclusive discount code, ​ SDVET10​for 10% off of your admission ticket. Grab your tickets now. After getting a sneak peek into this event, you certainly do not want to miss out.

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 33

“This was extremely beneficial and an AMAZING resource for women separating from service” ____

WOMEN’S HEALTH TRANSITION TRAINING This woman Veteran-led training will cover: • Transformed culture of the VA • Range of women’s health and mental health care services available at VA • Eligibility for and enrollment in VA health care

“I started with about 5% of the information, and am walking away with confidence and armed with sufficient information to make informed decisions” ____

“It is nice to ask questions about women’s issues, not around men”

• Expectations for women to proactively seek health care services post-separation • Available transition support services Open to all military women, preferably Active Duty Servicewomen transitioning in the next year or women Veterans who have transitioned in the past 10 years.

SIGN UP AT THE SDWVN MEETUP When: Friday, 22 March from 0800 – 1200 OR 1300 - 1700 Where: PLNU Mission Valley Center (4007 Camino Del Rio South San Diego, CA 92018)


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

The San Diego Women Veterans Network Offers Two Women Veterans Heath Transition Workshops The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Women’s Health Services Office has partnered with the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team to develop the VA Women’s Health Transition Pilot Training. This program, which began implementing training sessions at Air Force bases in July 2018, intends to address the health needs of transitioning servicewomen. The leading motivation behind these trainings is the negative trends in health outcomes for the women Veteran population. For example, women Veterans face greater health-related challenges after military service compared to their male counterparts, including: chronic pain, obesity, musculoskeletal issues, depression and suicide. Often, women Veterans do not understand what women’s health services are available to help them address their health-related challenges. Additionally, fewer women Veterans seek services and support from VA and often do not connect with the VA until an average of 2.7 years post military service or until mental/physical health issues have manifested. The VA Women’s Health Transition Training Pilot program aims to provide servicewomen with a deeper understanding of the women’s health services available to them within the VA health care system and the VA health care enrollment process for continuation of health care services. VA is piloting the Women’s Health Transition Pilot Training at a number of Air Force bases, including MacDill AFB, FL, Hurlburt Field AFB, FL, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, Travis AFB, CA, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, Joint Base Andrews, MD and the Pentagon, VA, as well as one-time sessions in San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and San Diego, CA, until late spring 2019. One recent participant noted, “Every female should come experience this class in order to get a full view of the VA services and support available to female Veterans.” The VA Women’s Health Pilot Transition Training discusses the major points along the women Veterans transition journey (see figure), focusing on how to enroll in and access health care services at VA.

This interactive, high-energy course is led by a woman Veteran and covers the following: the transformed culture of VA for both male and female patients, range of women’s health and mental health care services, eligibility for enrollment in VA health care, expectations for women to proactively seek health care services post-separation, transition assistance, and logistical details such as facility structure, locations, and points of contact. Participants have enjoyed the trainings, including learning new information about VA culture and services and having a forum to ask women-specific health questions. One participant recommended the course to other women saying, “I would recommend this course because this is a great, open environment to ask questions and get gender-specific information. I invited other women [to register for the course today] but they couldn’t attend – I will now highly recommend/insist that they attend the next offering.” In San Diego, we partnered with the San Diego Women Veterans Network to provide two upcoming opportunities to take the VA Women’s Health Transition Pilot Training. This course is open to all military women, preferably Active Duty Servicewomen transitioning in the next year AND women Veterans who have transitioned in the past 10 years. The upcoming sessions are on Friday, March 22, 2019. There will be two sessions: Option 1 from 0800 – 1200 and Option 2 from 1300 – 1700 on March 22nd. The sessions will take place at the PLNU Mission Valley Center (4007 Camino Del Rio South San Diego, CA 92018. To sign-up: https:// For questions and additional information about the Pilot program, please contact Dr. Nancy Maher, Program Manager of the VA Women’s Health Transition Training Pilot, at For more information about available locations, please visit Please note for Active Duty Servicewomen: TDY can be approved through an Airmen’s squadron commander and would be unit funded. For more information about the San Diego Women Veterans Network please visit us online: https://sdwvn. org/ or about/ or reach out to President Billiekai Boughton: We’re stronger together! San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 35

“Why I Do What I Do” By Shya Ellis-Flint Six moves in twelve years as a military family In 1997, I became a Marine Corps spouse and moved for the first of six times from San Diego, my home, to Pensacola, Florida. I left a 6- year career that I’d been building in marketing and production and had no job prospects, contacts, or friends in Florida. We had signed a lease, sight unseen, for a nice Pensacola apartment before leaving San Diego so that when we arrived at our new duty station we would be able to move right in.

Our nice apartment complex was directly behind a strip mall and flanked on the other side by train tracks. It was clean enough, but the area was lacking, and I had wished I’d known before we moved about the other parts of town that were so much more “us”. Had I had any connections to the community or had known anyone there who could have answered some personal questions, it would have made our transfer and ensuing year so much better. The second move was not as painful. It was a town over, and I had settled in a bit, but was struggling to find a job. There wasn’t much in my field, so I applied for anything that seemed interesting or for which I was remotely qualified or overqualified. After many interviews which always revealed I was a temporary resident due to being a military spouse, and receiving, “thanks but no thanks” I laid it all out there in the next interview; because really what did I have to lose? I like working, I had worked since I was 16, I’m good at what I do, and damn it, someone was going to recognize it, and someone finally did. It took a little begging and me demonstrating that the boss would be saving money hiring me as I didn’t need “extras “like health insurance... I’ll never forget Trademark Properties; Todd, the owner, for seeing the value in me even though I wouldn’t be there long term and my coworker, Tina Chiapetta (now Grimes), as she was my first true friend on this military spouse journey. 36

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

The third move was to Meridian, Mississippi. I’d been a military spouse now for a year and a half, and this move was taking us to base housing. I dove head-first into all things Marine-, spouseand family- oriented. I became involved as a Key Volunteer (KV) and then the KV Coordinator, VP of the spouses club and unofficial squadron event planner for “carrier qual” and “winging celebrations” and “wetting downs” (promotions). And, since you can’t do everything on base, this took me into the community where I made a lot of connections which led me to an advertising job. I was in the right place at the right time and got lucky. We also knew we had at least another two years in Meridian, as the training pipeline had been shut down and was backlogged, which I’m sure made it less daunting to hire me. I was busy in Meridian. The fourth move was back home! Back to San Diego where I had family, friends and job prospects. At least I thought I did. But being out of the local workforce for four years does a number on your relevance. This was also the place where we had our son and the duty station when September 11th occurred. The world changed in many ways that day and continued to change and become more separated, and being a military family, even more isolated and disconnected.

The fifth move was the hardest – by far. It was to Hawaii. How could you not be excited about Hawaii? At least that’s what my family and friends kept telling me. But this was the move that I most thought about during my interview with Vets’ Community Connections. Here’s the story: I got on a plane September 6th, 2004: four large suitcases checked, three huge carry-ons and a 3 year old, who did not want to leave home or his grandma and grandpa. It was not a pleasant six- hour flight. My husband was supposed to have been at the airport to meet us, but six days earlier the battalion he was assigned to as a FAC (Forward Air Controller) was told they were deploying to Iraq immediately, not in three months as we had been planning. I literally knew no one getting off that plane. “I’m tough, I’ve been doing this for 7 years, I got this”, I told myself. But I didn’t. The base house we were supposed to move into was still occupied because transfers had been put on hold due to the uptick in force deployment. The four crates of household goods I had shipped out seven weeks earlier were now sitting on a dock. I had thirty days to get them moved into a house that did not exist; a rental car that had a cockroach problem (if you’ve lived in Hawaii, you know this isn’t as weird as it sounds); and a small hotel room that had no kitchenette with another 30-day time limit. Despite these sudden hurdles, my son and I were housed, we were financially OK, had food, and we were safe. But we were utterly alone. I have never felt more isolated and detached than I did those first weeks in Paradise.

Fast forward to the sixth move back home to San Diego four years later. Then fast forward to eight years of various schooling, jobs. And then to my interview with Vets’ Community Connections in June of 2016. I sat listening to Kari McDonough, co-founder of VCC, describe this new approach to community integration for military and veterans. An idea and mission created to help alleviate the struggles I faced every time we moved to a new community. An avenue for individuals from all walks of life within the San Diego community who want to do more than say, “thanks for your service”. People willing and able to connect directly with people like me and give us access to their local knowledge and experience. A path that provides people like me with easy access to trusted sources to get information specific to our own needs. Why do I do what I do as Program Director at the San Diego office of Vets’ Community Connections? I do what I do because while we don’t all share the same life story, we all share a same ’something’ that binds us. Something we’re all looking for – community. And I know Vets’ Community Connections works in connecting veterans, active military and family members like me with real people in the community. How do I know? Because I’ve lived it.

The base was great for on-base services, but I needed information outside the base and I needed a lot of it: A realtor. School information. A map. Things to do with my son. A chiropractor. I needed someone to talk to that wasn’t entrenched either in the battalion or base information. I needed a lifeline to the community, some sources I could trust -- and I had no idea where to start. We struggled through it, had great neighbors and slowly developed a close connection to the community there by becoming involved with everything we could -- but it took a solid year and a half to feel comfortable.

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 37


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Caring for our veterans

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

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

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 39

“Always do what’s right” By Holly Shaffner That sounds simple enough and there’s one San Diego organization which is doing just that. Support The Enlisted Project or STEP as they are known in the military community lives by their motto every day. It was very apparent recently during the recent federal government shutdown when the organization “Stepped Up” to assist local Coast Guard members who were not receiving paychecks. Due to policies about government agencies accepting gifts and donations, STEP quickly figured out how to help the Coasties. STEP was the clearinghouse to collect donations and then to get those donations into the hands of the junior Coast Guard members who needed some assistance until they were paid again. STEP was “just doing the right thing”. STEP is celebrating its five year anniversary this month. To date they have assisted more than 3,700 military and veteran families in Southern California through financial counseling and grants and thousands more through food, clothing and backpack distributions. At the helm of the organization is Tony Teravainen, U.S. Navy veteran who has been the President and CEO since 2014. He leads a team of 11 employees and an Army of volunteers to accomplish the daily, monthly and annual goals of the nonprofit organization. Did you know? • San Diego has the largest concentration of military members in the world • There are over 110,000 active duty members and over 118,000 family members residing in San Diego County • 60% of junior enlisted service members’ salaries are considered low income by US Housing and Urban Development Department measures • By age 25, enlisted service members are 2x more likely to be married than their civilian counterparts • Military families move 3x more than non-military families • Military spouses have a 16% unemployment rate – 4x higher than their civilian counterparts


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

With numbers like that and the bulk of military members being young men and women with little to no financial experience or knowledge, there are going to be times when they have financial hardships. And that is where STEP steps in. The financial struggles occur when a military family moves to a high cost of living area like San Diego, when a spouse cannot find a job after their service members is transferred to the area, when a spouse has to care for young children because the family cannot afford childcare, when the family has a new child or when the military has overpaid a member and their pay is significantly less than they expected…and about a hundred other scenarios. These financial pressures specific to military life combined with a lack of financial knowledge further increase service members’ vulnerability to financial crisis. Our military members are making choices about what utility to turn off - water or electricity when they

can’t pay the bills, they worry about not having a car seat or a crib for their baby, they deploy on missions and stress about how their families will have enough to eat. In the $1.8 million of revenue STEP takes in annually, 70% of the organization’s resources are dedicated to Maslow’s first level of hierarchy of basic needs – food, shelter, water, electricity. The majority of clients are referred to STEP through referrals. In fact, 90% come from friends, co-workers, military supervisors and more than 130 support agencies. The client is referred to a STEP case manager (social worker) who resolves their immediate crisis (eviction, restoring utilities, getting a car seat, providing emergency food, stopping car repossession, etc…). Once the crisis is adverted the case manager can address the larger situation and treat it holistically. During the process the client receives personal financial counseling and when needed, may receive a grant which is paid directly to the creditor. By the end of the intervention, clients discover up to three manageable goals and develop a realistic plan for achieving them, and design a monthly positive-cash flow budget. Throughout the process each component is tailored to each client’s unique situation. The goal is to get the client to a new “ground zero”. This tried and true approach has resulted in 91% of STEP’s clients not returning for additional grant support and 88% report improved financial stability 6-36 months afterwards. When asked what he is most proud about, Tony said,

“I am most proud of the lives we change every day and how we help our clients take control of their lives.” STEP takes in over $1 million in revenue each year and it is all through in-kind and personal donations, grants and special events. STEP does not receive any federal or state government funding for their mission and those E-1 to E-6 service members and recently discharged veterans are very appreciative for the services and programs STEP offers. In addition to the financial counseling and interventions, STEP also has a Warehouse on Wheels where they travel to bases and resource fairs to distribute diapers, wipes, and baby clothing, and every August they host an event for military families where they distribute donated backpacks filled with supplies just in time for school.

for military families where they distribute donated backpacks filled with supplies just in time for school. STEP partners with another local nonprofit, Courage to Call to host a food distribution for military families and while they are at STEP’s facility, they can “shop” for donated children and household items in their warehouse. And finally, due to generous donors STEP was able to give turkeys at Thanksgiving, and trees and scooters at Christmas to local military families.

Tony told stories of how his team has stopped 439 evictions and saved over 800 people from living in their car or on the streets. He talked about a client who received less than $200 a month per paycheck for an extended period when the member’s pay was screwed up and how a Marine was injured during his third combat tour and had to stay in San Diego to recover while his spouse and children lived over three hours away. They commuted to San Diego every weekend and racked up expenses for 16 months while he recovered. And then there were those Coasties who stood in line at food banks during the government shutdown. Those are our American Heroes and their families who STEP is helping each and every day - just doing the right thing. STEP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization always in need of donations and volunteers. To learn more about STEP and the programs they offer, go to: or you can follow them on Facebook @StepSoCal.

In addition to the financial counseling and interventions, STEP also has a Warehouse on Wheels where they travel to bases and resource fairs to distribute diapers, wipes, and baby clothing, and every August they host an event San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 41

Purpose: To honor and highlight the resiliency, strength, and dedication that United States Marine Corps wives embody as they support our military community and country. Award and Recognition: • $1,500.00 monetary award. • Plaque and photograph of awardee will be on display for one year at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, MCAS-Miramar. • Special award ceremonies in May. Deadline: April 24, 2019 Information and to submit a nomination: Friends and family members of Marine wives (except their husbands) are encouraged to submit nominations for the recognition. For additional information please call the office at 858-693-1723 or check the website at .

P.O. Box 45316 • San Diego, CA 92145-0316 • 858-693-1723 Website: • Email:


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

TOUR OF HONOR Since 2010, Honor Flight San Diego has flown more than 1,300 veterans on their “Tour of Honor”

Do you know a WWII or Korea War veteran who has never flown on Honor Flight ? Sign Up Today For Our Next Trip? Please complete the Veteran Application at: www.

The Next Trip to Washington, D.C. is May 3-5, 2019 For more information, email us at: San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 43

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

New American Legion Post 760

VANC announces the creation of our New American Legion Post 760 We are very excited to announce the creation of our new American Legion Post 760. The idea behind this new post is that there are many Legion members throughout the State who would like to have a very active Post to participate in. There are many posts throughout the Department of California that do great things in their communities; we intend to be like them. Post #760 will be fully integrated into the idea of the Veterans Association of North County (VANC). Veterans who are looking for help will benefit from a service officer with many years of experience serving the County of San Diego. We are connected with many other Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) that our ready to serve our veterans and the community. VANC also has many programs to support our veterans and active duty service members and their families. From transitioning from the military to the civilian work force, to finding job opportunities or housing assistance. So the request may come in through the Legion; An organization with 100 years serving our communities across the Country, but those needs can be met through so many of our association members, contacts and fellow VSO’s that call VANC home. The American Legion has always stood for Veterans; Defense; Youth; Americanism; and Communities.

We will mentor our youth, participate in our community in a meaningful way, and always take care of our fellow veterans. The Legion is a non-partisan, not for profit organization. We are actively looking for members for our Post that wish to serve their community and their fellow veterans. We intend to have regular activities that connect veterans and their families throughout the 760 area code. From our Super Bowl Party, to our Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, when you are visiting VANC you can expect to be in the company of your neighbors, your fellow veterans and people that care. Members can expect dynamic meetings focused on getting things done, serving others and making a difference. If you are an active duty, reserve duty member or a veteran who has served, this post will certainly be worth your time. We want to represent the American Legion in it’s next 100 years of service. If this sounds like your kind of post, our meetings will be held at VANC at 1617 Mission Avenue in Oceanside, CA. You can send an e-mail to to learn more about membership. We already have a great group of members that embrace the ideas we share. We hope that you find Post #760 to be an exciting and rewarding experience. 44

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 45

The American Legion is turning 100 Featured distinguished guest: 97 year old, WWII Paratrooper, Tom Rice The American Legion is turning 100, and San Dieguito American Legion Post , Encinitas, CA is planning to celebrate! • You are cordially invited to celebrate, “A SALUTE TO THE GREATEST GENERATION”, featuring distinguished guest, 97 year old, WWII Paratrooper, Tom Rice. Festivities will be held at our Encinitas Post, 210 West F Street, Encinitas, CA, 92024. • Saturday, March 2, 2019. Gates open at 11:00 AM; National Anthem at 11:30AM, with Festivities at Noon. The Organization as a whole traces its roots to March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France, in the aftermath of World War I. The American Legion was federally chartered on September 16, 1919, and quickly became an influential force at the national, state and local levels, dedicated to service to veterans, strong national defense, as well as youth and patriotism with over 5,400 local posts; 13,000 worldwide and more than 2.2 million war-time veteran members. “The American Legion Family of Encinitas is excited to share both the legacy and the vision of our organization,” Post Commander Matt Shillingburg said.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of good for our Veterans in this Community, and intend to keep doing it for a second century. Please RSVP at 760-753-5674 at your earliest convenience. Thank You Again for Your Continued Support for Our Active Duty Veterans. Matt Shillingburg Commander, Post 416 United States Army Retired


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Tom Rice A native of Coronado, Thomas M. Rice was born on August 15, 1921 to a naval aviation family, Marcus and Katherine Rice. The 600-square-foot house that his father built on H Avenue is still standing and it is where Tom lives today. During Rice’s childhood, his father was killed in an air crash in the Panama Canal Zone in 1934. Rice graduated from Coronado High School in 1940 and he enlisted in the US Army at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego, California on November 17th. In 1943 he entered basic training at Camp Toccoa, Ga. and completed the parachute jumping school at Fort Benning in 1943. After eighteen months of training, he became a member of the 501st Regiment, newly formed infantry, 101st Airborne Division. While serving in the 101st Airborne Division, Rice led a squadron of twelve soldiers and served as a platoon sergeant for six months. In the early hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944, Staff Sergeant Thomas Rice, 22, jumped into Normandy as part of Operation Overlord, the largest and most complex military campaign ever undertaken. Rice remembers the hours before parachuting into France: “On the night of June 5, 1944, as we boarded the planes that would lead us into combat, I am not sure that we realized the full extent of the dangers and difficulties we faced, or if we thought to the hundreds of thousands of other men who have faced similar or even worse trials, but if we had known all that, it would not have made any difference to us. We were ready and almost eager to go into action and get the whole bloody thing over with. “ Shortly after midnight, in terrible weather, Rice and thousands of other “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division parachuted into the night sky and over the Germans. While his plane was taking heavy anti-aircraft fire, the pilot maneuvered to escape the fire and, flying too fast and too low to jump, he hung up Rice in the door of the plane. Rice finally landed near Utah Beach, 4km north of Carentan, near heavily armed Germans and miles from the planned drop zone.

He joined about fifty other Americans, and they fought in Normandy for more than a month, sheltering in hunting holes, having little equipment and capturing hundreds of German soldiers. During the Normandy Campaign, a key event in the liberation of Europe, Rice was wounded by shrapnel and a sniper bullet that hit his left knee. He attributes success in Normandy to a “complex mix of physical and mental fighting spirit”.Rice also made a fight jump in Holland during Operation Market Garden in September 1944, and the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. He was seriously injured in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and other bullets tore a four-inch piece of the radial just below his right elbow. His last combat experience of the Second World War took place in Birtchengarten, Austria. Rice’s military awards include a Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Two Invasion Arrows, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, French Fourregue, Belgium Lanyard and Parachutist Badge. In April 2015, the French government honored Rice and thirteen other veterans by appointing them Knights of the Legion of Honor for their heroic service in the liberation of France during the Second World War. This prize is the highest honor that France grants to its citizens and foreigners.

Rice’s quote for Bronze Star Metal reads in part:

“He deployed his abilities and courage in the Normandy campaign on June 6, 1944, the airborne assault on Holland on September 17, 1944 and during the defense of the key town of Bastogne in Belgium from December 19, 1944 to December 27, 1944. Throughout the three campaigns, Sergeant Rice demonstrated his dedication to service and outstanding service to his regiment, and his actions were consistent with the highest standards of military service. “ After Rice’s honorable discharge at Fort MacArthur, CA, on December 21, 1945, he returned to his studies at San Diego State University. He then taught social studies and history in the San Diego area for nearly 44 years, married and had five children. His memoirs “Trial by Combat: A paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division remembers the Battle of Normandy in 1944” (AuthorHouse 2004), tells of his preparation, training and participation in Operation Overlord.

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 47

legal Eagle

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

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT BE A SOLE PROPRIETOR? A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with one person as the owner. Sole proprietors report business income and losses on their personal tax return and are personally responsible for the business’s debts and legal obligations. There are more than 23 million sole proprietorships in the U.S., making this by far the most common type of business entity. Sole proprietorships are common because setup is very easy – you just start doing business. Although sole proprietorships are easy to start and manage, they come with a host of legal and business risks.

For more information on how to legally protect your business please pick up a copy of my bestselling book: ‘Go Legal Yourself’ on Amazon or visit my website at

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Here are 5 main DISADVANTAGES of sole proprietorship: 1. You face unlimited personal liability for business debts and lawsuits – meaning creditors and legal claimants can go after your personal assets (your home, your car, even your personal bank accounts) to get their money.


2. Sole proprietorship taxes are higher – you end up paying more taxes than corporations. 3. Succession plans might be unclear – meaning that the business might not survive the owner, in case the owner passes away or becomes disabled.

-4 E m ployer Identification N um ber


4. Landing clients is harder – meaning customers and vendors are more likely to take you seriously when you are incorporated.


5. Raising money for a sole proprietorship can be very difficult – meaning to raise money from venture capitalists or angle investors, you must have a corporation. Investors seek ownership in your business in exchange for funding and you cannot carve up equity when you have none to give as a sole proprietor.


The main thing to keep in mind is that as your business evolves, so can your business structure. Not only are your personal assets at risk but the assets of your family are at risk too. Be open to changing your business entity into a corporation or an LLC. 48

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019


By Lara Ryan & Daniel Chavarria

“Congratulations on your enlistment or commission. We (DoD) promise to take care

• Service Member’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Are you aware that your military SGLI coverage expires at retirement or separation from the service? You have the option to enroll in Veteran Group Life Insurance (VGLI) and can do so without medical underwriting within 120 days of your last service date. Because it is “guaranteed issue,” it is really intended for those who can’t get other coverage. In other words, because it is available to all servicemembers, it is very expensive. If you’re healthy and have the option to get other insurance, the commercial market usually offers any number of options that cost considerably less.

Here’s an overview:

Work with a financial planner to review your financial situation and understand your military pay and benefits. You don’t know what you don’t know, and the more you know, the better off your finances will be!

of your financial needs: descent but moderate pay, health care needs, life insurance needs, housing needs, and investment needs. You give us 110%, and we will make sure you are covered.” This isn’t actually said to a service member, but it is implied. “Do your job, and we’ll worry about the rest.” It puts the service member at ease and gives them a sense of security. Unfortunately, that can lead to a false sense of security unless you are educated on those benefits and have the knowledge to fully leverage them.

• THRIFT SAVINGS PROGRAM (TSP): This is the military’s retirement plan, like a civilian 401k. Did you set up an account and is it Roth or traditional? Do you know the difference? Did you know can adjust the way the funds are allocated? Unless you manually adjust how your TSP is invested, the default option is known as the “G” Fund – “G” as in government securities investment fund. It is a “safe money” fund that has a low yield, which may be fine if you are aware of how slowly it will grow, but disappointing if you aren’t. Are you enrolled in Blended Retirement System, and if so, are you contributing enough to get the maximum matching contribution from the DOD – a possible 5%? Don’t leave money on the table.

Lara Ryan and Daniel Chavarria work with a team and run a comprehensive financial planning practice that specializes in working with active duty, retired, veteran and military-connected individuals, families, and businesses.

They are not fee-based planners and don’t charge for their time, but believe every servicemember needs and deserves a financial plan.

• GI BILL: Do you have the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – the one you paid into at $100/month for a year) – or are you eligible for the Forever GI Bill (Post9/11)? Do you know the difference? Do you plan to use the education benefit or do you plan to transfer it to a dependent? A MGIB can’t be transferred to dependents, and a Forever can. If transferring the benefit is what you want to do, then you must understand that to transfer requires at least an additional 4 years of service, a realization many people have too late! And, an added consideration, use of the benefit for a full-time education is accompanied by an E-5 with dependents stipend (whether or not you’re and E-5 and whether or not you have dependents). (307) 690-9266 (702) 497-3264

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 49


Startup Small Business We have been receiving scores of applications for the Operation Vetrepreneur program that launches April 1st. Of those applications, roughly 25% are startups or dreamers who would like to start a business but don’t know what kind or how to begin. That’s easy to understand. Starting up your own enterprise is both exhilarating and terrifying. There seems to be endless options and looking for direction is like trying to focus in the dark. Having said that, this column aims to give you the ability to figure out what is going to work for you both in the short and long run. It answers how to figure out what kind of business is best for you as an individual. You won’t think of all the answers at one time. I suggest you keep a note pad and write all this down, one page for each step. Step 1. Look at Your Core Skills. Answer these questions - If I had to work with numbers, I would go stark raving mad. It’s just not one of my core skills, and it drains my energy. Your core skills give you energy and inspire you to keep going. If you’re using your core skills work will be easy and you will prosper. The Two Types of Skills You Can Have - Hard skills: Skills that are tangible. You can see hard skills play out (like playing a game of tennis). Soft skills: Skills you can’t touch or see. Skills like being a great listener. Skills are things that you can improve and get better at without changing your personality, like communicating, analysis, writing, and connecting. Look Back in Time – Were you ever given a project to complete. What part of the project made you the happiest? The idea phase? Mapping it out? Putting it together? Working on it? Executing it? Measuring results? 50

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

What Comes Naturally to You? – Do you make friends quickly? what is easy for you that might not be for others? These are traits you don’t need to improve on. What Are Your Hard Skills? – What are you good at doing that you can improve upon? Are you good at something and love doing it? Woodworking, knitting, writing, selling, and speaking come to mind. You need to do an internal audit looking for when you feel like you’re in your element.

Step 2. Focus on the Kind of Business You Want. Answer these questions – When I started my business 33 years ago my primary motive was feeding my two children. I couldn’t find a job in my field. I took one course at UCSD on marketing and I knew instantly that was for me. So, it’s a good thing to trust your instincts if you have them. What Kind of Business Are You Thinking Of? Are you’re thinking of starting a brand-new business or an extension of an existing business? How Do You Plan to Finance Your Business? Are you funding it yourself? Do you have a little help, like a money earning spouse or a family member who believes in you? Are you going to need a loan?

I’ve said this before. If you want to be told what to do, if you like to know exactly what advancement your prospects are, if you believe in the fantasy that a job gives you security, then work for somebody else. If you want your income to be unlimited, if you believe in yourself, if you trust your instincts, perseverance and self-discipline, if you want to go see your kid’s ballgame without asking permission, then strike out on your own. Yes, it can be terrifying. You will have to tolerate a level of anxiety. However, when you succeed, they can’t fire you or take it away from you. For good information take a look at

If You Had to Pick One, Which of The Following Best Describes You? Are you championing a cause? Transforming a hobby? Pursuing an opportunity? Not sure? Right Now, If You Had to Pick Just One, What’s Driving You More Than Anything Else? Freedom to do the things you love? More time with your family? Leaving a mark on the world? Financial independence? What Best Describes How Much Time You Will Have for Your Business? Is it a side hustle? Full time as the boss? Which of The Following Best Describes the Business You See Yourself Creating? Improving your lifestyle by earning more money? Building an empire with lots of workers? I resent books and online experts that claim that the majority of small businesses fail. It simply isn’t true. A large number of restaurants fail, and that skews the stats. Research shows that a large number of small businesses do fail because they don’t stick with it. Another made-up claim is that small businesses that are a one-woman or one-man sole proprietorship are only “making a job for yourself.” So what? It’s still a business.

My dad, who owned a business for 50 years told me “you will never get rich working for somebody else.” I ignored most of what he said, but he nailed it with that one. Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Operation Vetrepreneur & President of Marketing Impressions, a 30+ -year- old marketing consulting firm. Apply NOW to join her Operation Vetrepreneur’s FREE Brainstorming Group launching again on April 1st, 2019 for veteran entrepreneurs at and visit for more info. If you want support for starting up a business, email her at San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 51


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

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San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 53

Transitioning Venturing into the civilian life could be a daunting task. According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of veterans were reported to have difficulties transitioning back to civilian life. These challenges vary in nature from emotional, to physical to loss of purpose, facing several transitioning challenges. 1. Feeling Connected: When serving in the military, we build a lifetime of friendships with strong bonds. In the military we are used to having friends who we trust and learned to rely on. But as we transitioned out of the military, those strong bonds get lost or broken and those friends who we learned to trust may no longer be around and those strong bonds shared while in the military are no longer there.

Suggestion: Now, as civilians, we face new challenges, new obstacles new ways of life. While it is true that we no longer wear the uniform, we still feel very connected to the military way of life. Therefore finding fellow veterans in our new communities is important and very helpful. It will help us reconnect with likeminded individuals, fellow veterans, who may help us identify available resources who who understand what we are going through. 2. New Purpose, New Direction Serving in the military is about dedication and commitment to a unique way of life. Everyone serving identifies with the “Organizational Culture” of the military. Moving into a civilian environment means that we must “adapt” to a new way of life, new “Organizational Culture”. These may create a sense of unclear direction unclear sense of purpose causing us to feel a little lost and we may struggle to find our new purpose or our new direction.

“We were trained to face challenges, we can do this!”

transitioning 54

San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Suggestion: Sense of purpose and sense of direction are our internal guiding points. First of all, we must be realistic, and understand that we are now moving into a new environment and that this could be a great opportunity and a great new beginning. Locating a transition coach to work with in identifying that internal drive may help in identifying a new direction a new purpose, Your New Adventure. 3. Using your Military skills to land a Career In the civilian workforce, the chain of command is less clear, there is no visible identification as it is in the military. The civilian workplace can be very confusing for some and it could make obtaining and securing employment a challenge. Some veterans may experience difficulty in translating acquired military skills into the civilian workforce. The problem compounds further due to the fact that some special skills that are acquired in the military do not translate well into civilian employment and/or may not come with certifications that are fully recognized and currently needed in the civilian workplace. Suggestion: Think about education before transitioning out of the military, most colleges and universities offer a variety of programs that could be of interest to you. I will also suggest to secure the service of a Job-Coach who knows and understands what employers are looking for and the type of education employers expect from applicants. 4. Savings and handling finances Having a healthy savings account could make the transition much easier. Whether you are retiring or separating after a few years, having a financial plan will make a world of difference. Start your plan as early as possible, even a Year in advance and before separation, but even if you missed the mark, the sooner you start a plan the easier it will be once you transitioned from the military. It is advised to have enough to cover the bills for three or four months. Suggestion: A financial Coach may be able to work with you in creating a transitioning savings plan that could help make your transition smooth and easier on you and your family. A Financial-Coach can help with: • Create a reasonable savings plan • Reduce or eliminate debt • Learn to manage finances (as it may be very different now as a civilian) • Manage and monitor your credit score

In Summary: Transitioning from military into civilian environment is going to feel “different” like uncharted territory, just the way it felt the day we started our military training. Becoming aware that it is “normal” to feel “Not Normal” it helps to move forward and will feel lees of an obstacle and more like a challenge – We were trained to face challenges, we can do this! If you would like direct assistance, feel free to contact us, we will be happy to help! Article prepared by: Joseph Molina Veterans Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 55

Higher Education Financial Planning Tips for Military Veterans


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

There is extraordinary excitement for military veterans to return to institutions of higher learning to get an undergraduate or a graduate degree. For many veterans, successfully completing an undergraduate degree marks the very reason why they began their military journey in the first place. For decades, the promise of military service followed by an undergraduate education has inspired thousands to join the military and complete their service. The promise of an education also leads to high levels of financial peril for military veterans. The financial peril in higher education comes when we spend too much vs. what the degree and the following career can financially deliver for us. Higher education is a wonderful experience and ensuring that you remain on a sound and sensible footing during your education is an essential component of educational success. Follow these five tips to remain on a sensible and financially wise path during your education. #1 – Am I Getting What I Pay For –Determining the true value of your education while you are getting your education used to be extraordinarily difficult. Today, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has created a higher education research tool that helps compare major education outcomes of schools. There are ten key measures to look at when comparing a school against other choices: 1. Total Undergraduate Enrollment 2. Retention Rate of All Students 3. Graduation Rate of All Students 4. Average Salary of All Students 5. Loan Repayment Rate of All Students 6. Average Student Loan Debt 7. Total Instate Tuition + Books 8. Military Training Credit Offered? 9. Any Department of Veteran Affairs Caution Flags? 10. Total Complaints Against Institution The goal of these metrics is to have the highest level in retention rate and graduation rate while having the lowest loan debt and the lowest caution flags and total complaints. You want to choose a school that has high student success, high loan repayment rates, and low debt to have a maximized educational outcome.

#2 – Maximize Your Military / Veteran Benefits Once you chose 4-5 schools to look at, the next step is to develop very detailed financial estimates that look at the best use of ALL of your available military veteran benefits compared against the best educational outcomes. Remember, less expensive is not always better, if the institution you choose has a lower graduation rate and higher student debt levels. The goal of this step is to maximize your military veteran educational benefits and align those benefits to the educational institutions that offer the best outcomes. #3 – Avoid Any Debt As Much As Possible – Avoiding any debt is a good rule for life. For education, debt can come quickly and in the form of loans for tuition, books, and also in the form of credit card debt for living expenses. A small amount of educational debt is acceptable if the payoff in income and graduation from your education is worth the tradeoff. In general, high levels of education debt lead to incredibly high living challenges after graduation. The best case is to avoid high levels of education debt right from the start. #4 – Work & Have Paid Internships –Working while going to school at an employer or in an industry that you want to work at after graduation is the best case for students. This not only earns money for school expenses, it also creates a network and valuable experience for post-graduation hiring. Internships should focus on being paid, gaining valuable experience, and building a network. #5 – Select a Degree with a Clear Profession (s) This is instrumental to help military veterans have a good military service to higher education to purposeful employment transition. Selecting a good educational institution with a major that is in demand and that you are also interested in is the best way to maximize your education. The STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are very popular. If your interests are not in STEM, then do not choose them. Instead, look at Business, Healthcare, and Education for other degrees. In general, a four year degree will be the most preferred degree among employers. Choosing a good school, choosing an in demand degree, and minimizing debt while also working a job or internship while in school will offer the best chances of post-degree success. San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 57

Veterans - Homelessness By Joe Molina Veterans Chamber of Commerce

In an Ideal world, one would think Homeless and Veterans are two words that should never be side by side. But unfortunately, this is not the reality.

When one thinks of the fact that these Veterans sacrificed themselves to protect our freedom, it’s only fair that they get safe and reliable shelter and care. Regardless of the sad reality, there’s no doubt that the United States is not only proud of her Veterans but also cares deeply about them. And this is made evident by the significant impact of the tremendous efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other organizations, on the situation of the homeless Veterans. Several statistical data providers show the number of Veterans who are Homeless. These statistics are demonstrating the high number of Veterans that find themselves with a lack of a basic shelter. shows the states that have a real problem in the number of Veterans facing homelessness. The states with high number of homeless Veterans are California Florida, Texas and New York. According to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, in 2017 over 40,000 Veterans were experiencing homelessness in the US. 40, 000 of our fellow Veterans did not have a basic shelter or roof over their heads. If you were to think about this with a little more perspective, imagine This number represents about 714 busses filled with passengers. Now that we have identified the problem, is there what can we do?


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

How Can We Help? The VA and other government organizations are trying to minimize the impact but appears that there is often if not always, a lack of resources/beds for our heroes. Many non-profits help Veterans with providing housing/ beds like Interfaith a nonprofit organization that helps Veterans with housing needs. But, what if individual Veterans could help provide fellow Veterans with a place to stay? What if we were to find a win-win solution that will help everyone involved in the process? What if we had a way for Veterans to directly help fellow Veterans with housing? If we were to find this solution, it will dramatically decrease the number of homeless Veterans. One program that appears to have found a solution that could greatly positively impact this issue is; The Housing for Heroes™ and the Income Properties for Veterans™ great example of how Veterans will be able to help fellow Veterans who are in need of a place to stay. Briefly on how it works. The program helps individual Veterans and active duty find a home, secure financing and provides the necessary guidance through the approval process on securing the property, applying for the funding and obtaining VA approval on the property to become a Rental Property (Income generating property). This program could work across the US and it appears to be a win-win for everyone involve in the venture. This is a great way for Veterans to secure ongoing income, and for Veterans to secure a place to stay. Properties are secured using VA benefits and these properties are pre-selected and inspected to make sure they receive approval as Rental Property / income generating property. I feel that this is a great solution for all of us who are Veterans and want to help our brothers and sisters who are having difficulties. The Housing for Heroes program is a nonprofit organization under the Veterans Foundation. I think together we can positively impact and help reduce the number of Veterans Homeless. I would like to encourage every veteran interested in home ownership, to consider this option as it creates a positive domino effect and a great way to help our Veterans. For information on this program: Housing for Heroes/ Income Properties for Veterans or email me directly at: I will be happy to help and refer you to the right resources.

The Coalition is comprised of a wide variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations, as well as governmental agencies and civic minded individuals.

“Community Collaboration is the Key” America’s Finest City is well known for its many attractions, amusement parks, nearby beaches and “perfect” weather. Located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, San Diego is home to the largest naval fleet in the world. With over 3 million residents, county wide, San Diego is the second largest city in California and the second largest military town in the United States. When it comes to providing veteran support services, San Diego is the most innovative and resourceful city in the nation. The San Diego Veterans Coalition (SDVC) is mainly responsible for those accolades. The San Diego Veterans Coalition was organized in 2012 using the Collective Impact Model, and is a premier San Diego Countywide monthly convener of over 150 unique member and participating organizations, businesses, and agencies, as well as convening many of that body in our four action groups, and other activities and events. It is one of the largest collaborative veteran service organization in the country and is a national role model for the comprehensive and the integrated system of community partners that serve our veterans. Every month, SDVC provides an open forum for veteran service organizations and businesses to collaborate and better serve our veteran community and their families. The forum is open to anyone that has an interest in supporting or providing a service to our veterans. The affiliated organizations and members range from ‘Habitat for Humanity’ to small business owners who provide specialized services for our veterans. Many of the organizations that belong to SDVC specialize in one field (education, housing, employment, healthcare). The goal is to understand what services each organization provides and with that knowledge, SDVC can offer comprehensive support to our local Veteran community.

The vision of the SDVC is to honor and care for U.S. Veterans, their families and significant others by integrating all available services. The mission of the SDVC is to improve the support of our Veterans in the San Diego Region by inspiring and encouraging collaboration and cooperation among service providers and Veteran service organizations, advocating on behalf of Veterans, their families and significant others for better integration of services, improving communication between Veterans and providers to disseminate information and determine needs, providing guidance and leadership which would affect local changes and serve as a model for other communities to emulate. At SDVC, they have found that collaboration is the key to addressing the needs of San Diego regional Veterans, their families and significant others. To ensure all the needs are met, they have developed four Action Groups to organize the work of the Coalition and have patterned these Action Groups Groups off the successful Live Well model: 1. Physical and Emotional Health Action Group 2. Family Life Action Group 3. Veterans, Empowered, Successful and Thriving Action Group 4. E3- Employment, Education and Entrepreneurship Action Group Through these Action Groups they identify gaps in support and service and create measurable outcomes to resolve them. These groups are made up of our members and together they are working to strengthen our community. COMMUNITY COLLABORATION IS KEY! in supporting our veteran community. Our veterans need your involvement. SDVC encourages all civilians, veterans, organizations and businesses that care about our veterans to attend their monthly meetings and get involved. If you would like to attend an SDVC meeting and support our veteran community, please visit: San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 59


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019




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

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



1231 Camino Del Rio South • 619-298-9571


1066 W. Valley Pkwy • 760-741-0441


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019 61


Go to a TOP college with the support of other veterans and FULL TUITION GUARANTEED. Posse is selecting veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to attend:



POSSE IS LOOKING FOR VETERANS WHO: • Have not previously received a bachelor’s degree • Have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty since September 11, 2001, and have received or will receive an honorable discharge by July 1, 2019 • Can commit to a one-month pre-collegiate training program in New York City in the summer of 2019 • Are leaders in their places of work, communities and/or families






COLLEGE DEGREE: Each cohort—a Posse—of 10 veterans attends college together to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

University of Virginia Navy Gallatin, TN

FUNDING: Vassar College, The University of Virginia, The University of Chicago, and Wesleyan University guarantee four years of full tuition funding after GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon benefits have been applied. SUPPORT: Comprehensive training from Posse prepares veterans for the college experience and support continues on campus through graduation. CAREER: Posse offers internship opportunities, career coaching and connections to a large professional network to prepare Posse Scholars for leadership positions in the workforce.


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019

Grant joined the Navy after graduating from high school in 2015. He developed into a strong and effective leader while training at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School. At UVA, Grant hopes to study physics and international relations while actively engaging with the university and surrounding communities. Grant says, “the Posse Foundation is investing in groups of driven individuals with incredible leadership potential to have an impact on conversations, campuses, communities, and the world."

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VETERANS Resources Support Transition Community

San Diego Veterans Magazine A Veterans Magazine by Veterans for Veterans


San Diego Veterans Magazine / MARCH 2019