“When I think of opportunity, I think of all the things my mom gave up for us to have a good life,” Alicia Hanf, Army Veteran and entrepreneur, said. “For me, opportunity is endless, it’s abundant. It’s always available to us.”
After serving six years in the Army, Hanf began her civilian career working for an agency in Baltimore. While she was at work one ominous day, she received a call from her brother telling her their mother had passed away. She said it stopped her whole life.
In that moment, she said she heard her drill sergeant’s voice come back to her, “Do you know what your last known point is?”
“The principal of last known point is when you get lost in the woods or in life, which you will, remember to stop, take a breath, don’t panic and just look around and go back to the last point that you can remember getting back to,” Hanf said, “From there, you replot your course, and you find your way.”
When Hanf was transitioning out of the military into civilian life, she was mentored by a group of women who helped her with her resume, helped her get a job, and really helped her cross over to civilian life successfully.
Hanf said she could not have gotten as far as she is today were it not for the veterans and business organizations that are available. Whether it is starting a business, looking for networking groups, or looking for help for an existing business, she advises to take advantage of the many resources available.
For small business owners who are feeling lost and looking for a last known point for help, there are resources and help available. Here are 7 to get started:
Resources available to all small business owners:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has over 100 centers providing both training and counseling services on a variety of topics to help Americans start, build and grow their businesses. It was created in 1953 as an independent government agency intended to preserve free competitive enterprise and help the economy. It intends to assist all business owners whether in the planning stage, launching stage, managing stage or growing stage of business.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are centers providing free, in-person business consulting on topics like writing business plans, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development and more. They also offer low-cost training and hold an annual conference.
Resources available to women business owners:
3. SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership is the branch of the SBA that sponsors a Women-Owned Small Businesses Federal Contracting Program. It is designed to give women-owned small businesses better access to federal contracting opportunities.
4. International Association of Women (IAW) provides networking events, professional development opportunities, career and business development services, and promotional opportunities for women in all stages of business. IAW also provides online networking benefits to connect with like-minded women and receive monthly eCoaching.
Resources available to veteran business owners:
5. Veteran Business Outreach Centers are available through the SBA to provide assistance to veterans in their local communities. The centers can help veterans access resources such as business training, counseling and mentoring in their local communities.
6. Veteran Entrepreneur Portal is a part of the VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. It provides access to a number of business tools and services including everything from business education to financing opportunities. The site also provides links and information related to government programs and services created specifically for veterans.
7. Patriot Boot Camp, presented by Techstars, is an accelerator program focused on helping military veterans and their spouses build technology companies. Open to all active-duty military members, veterans and their spouses, PBC’s main program is a three-day event. The event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.
For financial tools and tips you can use on your own Road to Victory, visit Victory Capital today.
This article is sponsored by Penn State World Campus.
You spent your whole military career trying to make sure the terrorists didn’t win and our common values were safeguarded. Now, you can continue that passion and utilize your experience by pursuing a career in Homeland Security. With a flexible online master’s degree from Penn State World Campus in Homeland Security, you can leverage the skills you’ve already learned with insight from research and technical skills that can help you land a job with intelligence analysis, information security, infrastructure protection, public safety, emergency management and much more.
Homeland Security at a glance
Created due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a mission: to protect American citizens from terrorism at home and abroad. Other missions have grown to be included, such as cybersecurity, emergency management or disaster resilience. When you pursue a career in homeland security, you might find yourself working within DHS’s many components, like customs and border protection, to transportation security, cybersecurity or immigration. In addition, the many other public and private sector partners in the homeland security enterprise beyond the federal department of DHS offer a plethora of career opportunities for those who served America’s security in prior military careers.
By enrolling in the Homeland Security master’s degree program, you’re not only going to receive the top-rated education Penn State is known for, you’re also demonstrating to future employers that you’re determined about your professional goals. You’ll gain an understanding of the origin and organization of the homeland security enterprise in the U.S., its public and private sector partners, and learn about relevant legislation, policies, strategies, plans and frameworks, as well as applied methods of analysis in a variety of threat domains.
Many of the competencies you need to be successful in a homeland security career field closely relate to skills you’ve acquired during your military service career. No matter your role there, you most likely have some experience gathering and interpreting intelligence to assess threats, develop responses and inform organizational policy. These are the three critical skills that successful graduates of homeland security programs build on. As you move forward with your degree program, you’ll also learn how to promote community relations and develop cultural awareness by facilitating partnerships at the community level.
Penn State’s Homeland Security master’s degree program includes seven specializations and nine graduate certificates, so you’re able to specifically tailor your academic outcomes to your future professional goals. The rigorous curriculum helps leaders to advance still further. A partnership of nine Penn State colleges, the Penn State Homeland Security portfolio is one of the country’s most respected and comprehensive programs in the field.
Uniquely positioned, Penn State’s Homeland Security master’s degree allows you to tailor your education to match your current and future career goals in serving America’s safety and security. Within this unified degree program, you can pursue an education in the base program that provides deep expert knowledge and skills for the homeland security enterprise, including emergency management and public safety. Alternatively, work on a domain specialization such as agricultural biosecurity, counterterrorism, cyber threat analytics, geospatial intelligence, information security or public health preparedness.
Each of these avenues will help you prepare for careers in a wide array of professional fields. Some exemplary career opportunities for our program’s graduates include upper-level positions in various government agencies, in emergency and crisis management, business continuity, infrastructure protection, intelligence analysis, law enforcement or physical security.
Why choose Penn State
Penn State World Campus provides military members, veterans and military families with the flexibility of a 100% asynchronous online program and the prestige of an established university. The World Campus recognizes the unique and specific needs of our military students. You can expect a high-quality program taught by world-class Penn State faculty in a collaborative learning environment. They offer a military-focused staff to support your needs and have the experience and training to help advise you on every step of your educational journey, from understanding GI Bill benefits to helping you find grants and scholarships.
When you become a student at Penn State World Campus, you join a community of more than 3,000 military and veteran students. When you’re ready to find out more, click here.
Often when service men and women return home from a long military deployment, they can have a sense of feeling lost being back stateside.
Many troops believe they still have plenty of unfinished business “over-there,” extending years down the line after their return. In the interim, they can be found struggling with various forms of depression.
Many veterans seek counseling, but one former Army captain found relief by revisiting the place that caused him so much anxiety — Iraq.
“We all have to ultimately take care of our own healing process and so that’s where I wanted to go back,” Iraq veteran and former Army Capt. Stacy Bare says.
U.S. Army captain, Iraq veteran, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Stacy Bare smiles bright while on his cathartic journey. (Source: Adventure Not War/Screenshot)
In February 2017, Bare, CEO of Combat Flip Flops and Army Ranger Matthew Griffin, and former helicopter pilot Robin Brown embarked on a ski ascent and descent from Mt. Halgurd — the tallest mountain in Iraq — to the hallowed battlegrounds from which Bare once served.
This incredible journey of healing spawned filmmaker Max Lowe to create the compelling documentary Adventure Not War.
This film shows a rarely seen beauty in a location known for devastation. For Bare, it created a stable place for healing wounds that are deeper than those seen on the surface.
VA is implementing its new electronic health record (EHR) system on Oct. 24 at initial sites in the Pacific Northwest. The implementation improves how clinicians store and manage patient information, including visits, test results, prescriptions and more. This will also mean some changes to how Veterans access their own health data online if their VA facility has changed to the new EHR.
Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington, and its community-based outpatient clinics in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho; Libby, Montana; and Wenatchee, Washington, will be the first in the nation to use VA’s new electronic health record and patient portal, My VA Health. As a complementary tool to VA’s existing My HealtheVet patient portal, My VA Health will allow Veterans to manage their appointments, prescription refills, medical records and communication with health care providers online.
Since full implementation of VA’s new EHR is expected to occur over a 10-year period ending in 2028, most Veterans will not see immediate changes to how they view their medical records online. VA will continue to support its current EHR systems, including My HealtheVet, throughout the transition period to ensure there is no interruption to the accessibility and delivery of care. Veterans can expect to learn more as their local facilities prepare to migrate to the new EHR.
In the meantime, here are three key things Veterans should know about VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program and My VA Health.
What is VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization program, and how does it impact Veterans?
EHRM is an effort to unite VA, the Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Coast Guard and community care providers on a single interoperable health information platform. This modernized system will allow VA to continue providing a world-class health care experience for Veterans across all VA facilities.
The new system will replace the department’s current electronic health record, known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), with a commercial, off-the-shelf solution developed by Cerner Corp.
The new EHR will create a paperless transition from receiving care as a service member through DOD to receiving care as a Veteran through VA. It will also support providers’ clinical decision-making by increasing their ability to make connections between a Veteran’s time on active duty and potential health issues later in life.
When will Veterans start using My VA Health?
Veterans will begin using the new My VA Health capabilities, accessible via VA.gov or My HealtheVet, when their local VA medical center or clinic transitions to the new EHR. Until then, Veterans will use only the existing My HealtheVet portal, which is also accessible via VA.gov. Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its clinics are the first facilities introducing My VA Health to their patients.
Once My VA Health launches at a site, Veterans will be able use their current credentials to sign in to either My VA Health or My HealtheVet. This will ensure Veterans who have received care at more than one VA site have access to all of their records. For example, Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its four clinics will use My VA Health to manage their care from those sites and My HealtheVet to manage their health care from other VA and community sites. Historical records, including prior secure messages, will remain available on My HealtheVet.
Meanwhile, VA is working to make VA.gov the single place where Veterans can go for their health needs, so navigation between the two portals is not necessary. VA will provide resources to walk Veterans through these changes as EHRM deployment reaches their facilities.
How will Veterans at Mann-Grandstaff and its associated clinics access the patient portal?
Veterans will sign in as they do today, either through My HealtheVet or VA.gov, using any of the following accounts:
Premium DS Logon account
Premium My HealtheVet account
Once logged in, Veterans will be directed to My VA Health regarding care received at Mann-Grandstaff and its clinics and to My HealtheVet regarding care received at other VA locations. Veterans with basic or advanced My HealtheVet accounts can upgrade to a premium account using this guide.
Additionally, Veterans who receive care at Mann-Grandstaff VAMC and its associated clinics can visit this page for more information on My VA Health ahead of its introduction Oct. 24.
Bet you think you’re a good driver. No one can knife across three lanes of traffic and make an exit doing 73 mph like you can, hoss. You even throw around the occasional courtesy wave.
Former Army Engineer and “Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis fancied himself above average in the driving department until he met Jim Wilkey at Bobby Orr Motorsports, where the two-tour Vietnam Vet proceeded to hand our host his ass.
A former Navy Seabee, Wilkey is now one of Hollywood’s most highly-regarded stunt drivers, flipping cars and drifting in such modest cinematic offerings as “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
When he’s not rolling on “action,” Wilkey teaches the art of stunt driving to amateur road warrior wannabes on his home track in Camarillo, CA.
Watch as Wilkey puts Ryan through a day’s worth of paces and Ryan makes an unwise decision to challenge the master in a timed stunt lap, in the video embedded at the top.
If you’ve had difficulty recovering from combat trauma, Captain Danny Maher, USMC (Ret), and best friend, Sergeant Ryan Loya, USMC have a prescription: camping, karaoke, and going on a 22-mile hike in your underwear.
Really? Let’s back up.
Ryan’s comrade in arms Sgt. Jeremy Sears committed suicide on Oct. 6, 2014 and six months later, Danny’s good friend L.Cpl. Artem Lazukin took his own life on March 29, 2015. Both men suffered from combat PTSD.
The loss of these two brave souls was profound, but in typical military style, Ryan and Danny decided to go to work. The conclusion that they came to: hanging out with guys who have experienced war and having a good belly laugh in the face of adversity is damn fine medicine.
What started as the “Silkies Hike, 22, with 22, for the 22”, a 22-mile hike for vets on July 25, 2015, has become a nationwide community 20,000 strong. The number 22 is significant because it is estimated that 22 vets commit suicide each day in the US.
Sporting official Irreverent Warriors “ranger panties”, these guys go on excursions that take them out into nature (or sometimes right through the city) where they can goof off, bond, and get a little respite from the demands of civilian life.
To get a sense of just how outrageous these guys are, check out this video:
While the event is high-spirited, the goal is a serious one: to let other vets know that they are not alone, that help is available, and that suicide is not the answer. It also helps spread awareness among the civilian population to ensure these brave men and women get the support they need.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects 31% of veterans and there is a substantial link between combat injuries, PTSD and suicide.
There are many things you can do if you experience PTSD symptoms, which include:
Reliving the trauma
As one vet put it, “You forget how to have fun.”
The first step in conquering PTSD is knowing that there is no way to think your way out of it. It’s actually your body’s sophisticated method of protecting you, a response known as “fight, flight, or freeze”. It’s got nothing to do with bravery and everything to do with having a fully functioning parasympathetic nervous system.
Though we have made remarkable headway as a nation in understanding the threat of PTSD and its relationship to suicide, often, family members do not grasp the effects combat has on our minds and bodies. What starts off as a legitimate medical condition can spiral out and destabilize the dynamics of our homes.
The Irreverent Warriors are not just a good group of guys willing to help and have fun, they also partner with other military-friendly organizations that supply vets with much-needed services, everything from buying a home to starting a business.
Brotherly love and humor is not the cure-all for PTSD, but it can go a long way in speeding up the healing process and preventing tragedy. If you or a veteran family member is exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, reach out to the big-hearted guys at Irreverent Warriors.
A photo posted by Robert Kugler (@robkugler) on Jul 25, 2016 at 4:59pm PDT
Kugler was getting ready to graduate college on the GI Bill in 2015 when he heard the news that Bella had bone cancer. A May 2015 amputation of Bella’s front left leg bought her some time, but veterinarians were still pessimistic about her chances. That’s when Kugler decided that he wanted to give her a proper send-off.
“I just was kind of looking at her, and just imagining her being gone when I came home from work,” he told WATM. “I just said, ‘You know what? Let’s take off for a little while.'”
Since that decision, Bella and Kugler have been traveling together around the country. Like Kugler, Bella loves being in nature.
“We were in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York,” Kugler said. “That has been some of our best nature time together during this period. … Our hikes in the Adirondacks are probably some of my favorite times that we’ve had together, like near Lake Placid.”
Bella, who Kugler adopted in 2007 with his then-wife, is great with people and is known for enthusiastically greeting almost anyone she meets.
“Bella’s still very independent,” Kugler said. “She wants to meet new people, but she’s also just very curious about how they smell, if they have food for her. ‘You got food? Who’s got food? Do you have food for me?’ She gets a little spoiled.”
This has allowed Kugler to meet and help encourage people he wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.
“We meet a little girl in a wheelchair that just falls in love with Bella before she even realizes that she has three legs. Bella stands up, and the girl is like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s like me,’ ” Kugler said.
As Kugler describes it, he and Bella are just, “Out exploring the world with my dog, and encouraging people to get outside and drop their social barriers and their boundaries, to just live on this tiny blue speck together as one.”
While Bella has done brilliantly on their trip, staying active and outgoing despite her cancer, Kugler says that traveling with Bella has helped him nearly as much as it has helped her.
“When I’m with her, and I’m paying attention to her, I’m outside myself, and I’m focusing on giving her the best life, I feel at that point in time that I am the best version of myself,” he said. “That is one of the reasons I like really spending time with her and doing our thing.”
Kugler is overjoyed that Bella has been able to fight for so long and has helped so many people, but he keeps people updated on her progress in his Instagram feed where he acknowledges that Bella is still facing death.
You know the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? That’s precisely what you should remember when you meet singer-songwriter, Brandon Mills.
The six-foot-tall dirty blonde haired blue-eyed Mills isn’t just another pretty face; behind those blue eyes, there is a bad ass who was once known as Sergeant Brandon Lanham, Marine Corps reconnaissance scout sniper.
He goes by Mills because, as he puts it, “Mills is my middle name, all my favorite singer songwriter’s names are 3 syllables, not sure why but I think there is a method to their madness.”
Mills joined the Marine Corps with his brother and they attended boot camp together and were later reunited in the Recon community.
Mills served his first tour in Afghanistan with Golf Co. 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines out of Hawaii. After some continued motivation from his brother, he took the leap, passed the requirements and indoctrination process, and got to 1st Recon Battalion, with whom he would deploy to his second tour in Iraq.
All along the way, Mills was writing lyrics and honing his craft as a musician.
“I just wanted to travel and play music for everyone,” Mills said about his desire to perform.
“My youngest memory of recorded music is a Beach Boys greatest hits tape that I spent my lawn mowing money on,” reflects Mills as he explains his earliest passion for music that has stuck with him since playing the saxophone in school.
The love of music and the desire to create it has been a lifelong aspiration for Mills even before he joined, so it would make sense that he leave the Marine Corps and become a musician. Right?
Even after all his success and accolades in the Corps, Mills was not ready to aimlessly jump straight into the music scene when he left the Marines. He admits he was nervous — even scared — to chase the dream without a safety net, so he did what many Veterans do: he became a contractor.
Eventually, the bug bit harder and he found it impossible to not take the risk and pursue his true first love.
Now managing his own gigs, website, and social media, Mills has made his transition from Marine to musician rather successfully.
He has played shows all over the country, supporting non-profits like Intersections International, Force Blue, and Society of Artistic Veterans. He has recorded several tracks and even shot a few music videos of himself performing.
Recently Mills finished a residency at Umami burger in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “That was just me hustling, literally going from business to business asking, do you guys do live music? If not, why? If you do, how do I get involved?”
That’s the work ethic and resolve all warriors take to their tasks.
(Brandon Mills | YouTube)It might go without saying that the persistence, determination, and even stubbornness are strong character traits in most, if not all, of our elite warriors.
You don’t make it into our military’s special units without being resilient, steadfast, and dedicated — Mills without a doubt carries those same values and characteristics into his music career.
I asked Mills if the transition was hard, going from stone cold warrior to writing and performing love songs. I wondered if there was any identity crisis there and how he dealt with it.
He explained that it was difficult dealing with other ideas of masculinity and letting that warrior machismo block his flow, but he has learned to temper those instincts and allow himself to feel the positive vibes and let his creativity through, not worrying about what others think and only focusing on great storytelling through song.
I don’t think Brandon would mind the comparison of his sound being somewhere between John Mayer in his vocal delivery and Jack Johnson in his light-hearted muted acoustic. Mills’ vocals have that bluesy, gravely register that urges the listener to lean in and feel the lyrics, while his guitar style is playful and rhythmic like a campfire sing-a-long.
Mills isn’t commercially successful yet, or famous for that matter; however, he understands that it’s a long road in the music industry, requiring a ton of work — but he feels he has all that in him.
He wants to help veterans tell their stories through music and let them know that it’s okay to express themselves through art, using himself as an example. Brandon’s music is all about spreading positivity, uplifting spirits, and connecting people with passion.
“I hope that I can give some people what they need,” Mills said, when discussing his forthcoming album. “I’m so critical of myself, I know what I want — if it’s not good enough I will do it again.”
It’s relentless drive and focus like this that will push Mills into the spotlight, eventually.
The strength, tenacity, and perseverance saturated in his warrior spirit will undoubtedly meld with his passion and creativity to help Brandon Mills become a renowned singer-songwriter for years to come.
Veterans are a cut from the finest moral cloth of society. Military service offers upward mobility in the social ladder across all cultures. Officers from humble beginnings have earned a seat at the table of high society by showing gallantry in battle. The character traits honed by veterans are what social clubs look for in members. Membership is a great way to engage with like-minded people to create powerful connections at the local level. Veterans fit in quickly at country clubs for various reasons.
Veterans have charisma
Even the Marine Corps has golf courses on her bases domestically and abroad. The need for recreation to keep up moral is always on the mind of great military leaders. The financial barrier to entry is reduced to enjoy these types of facilities on base. Many offer amenities such as banquets, tennis courts, wedding facilities and saunas that make it easy for active-duty troops to access.
Learning jargon, such as tee time, is an advantage for when a veteran is invited as a guest at a private club. Civilians at private golf courses have everything money can buy – except what you have done. Veterans are mysterious and offer a point of view they have never had. Members quickly hang on every word from a combat veteran’s lips. You will be surprised how many country club members have sons and daughters as officers in the military or that they themselves have served.
Veterans quickly pick up on decorum
There isn’t much to the science of etiquette. At first it is overwhelming to be sure, but through exposure it becomes routine. No one truly cares if you do not know the difference between wines or which side you place your water glass. They had the opportunity to learn it young and understand that a simple mistake isn’t the end of the world. In fact, you will find that members will take you under their wing to make you feel like you belong – because you do.
In order to join most country clubs you will need two written recommendations from members, along with three to five other members supporting you. What members are looking for is the willingness to learn. Vets are natural story tellers that command attention, an advantage for those seeking support for your goal.
The Army, Navy and Marine Corps have their own country club
There was much discussion during the summer and early fall of 1924 about the need on the part of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers stationed in the Washington area for outdoor recreation facilities. This need sprang from the realization that such officers, with modest salaries and generally without other means, were hard put to meet expenses for the necessities of life, let alone afford the high initiation fees and dues associated with membership in existing private country clubs of the area.
Army Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA
Prestigious social clubs actively welcome veterans despite having strict application policies. Prior service members and civilians can sit down and relax together. Joining a country club is a good idea for the bold and ambitious. It will surprise you how quickly a vet will adjust to a new world full of business opportunities. Across the nation there are many country clubs that cater to veterans and have reciprocal memberships with other country clubs. Another fact about country clubs is that once one accepts you, other clubs welcome you as well. This multiplies your ability to make connections exponentially. Veterans have charisma and that makes them fit in quickly within all stratus of society.
It was an exceptionally hot September day in Twentynine Palms, California, and I was sitting in the waiting room of the physical therapist’s office, waiting for my initial appointment. I was there for an injury I’d acquired rappelling in the Marine Corps in 2002 that never properly healed. Two years later I was finally getting in for physical therapy.
The only other person in the waiting room with me was a gentleman, probably about 250lbs, with a beard down to his chest and an old ball cap with a fishing hook stuck through the bill. He looked (and smelled) like he hadn’t showered in weeks. I was pretty sure he was homeless, and had just ducked into the office for a moment of shade and relief from the 120 degree temps outside. In tattered jeans, tennis shoes with holes in them, and at least 3 shirts, he clearly wasn’t ready for physical therapy.
After what seemed forever, a receptionist poked her head into the waiting room, looked directly at the man next to me, and said “Mr. Foley? We’re ready for you.”
The man just stared at her and then looked at me, confused. “I think she means you,” he muttered.
“I’m Foley,” I told the woman.
“Oh. Our paperwork says you’re the veteran. I’m so sorry, we’ll fix that to reflect the dependent of the veteran. Come on back,” she pushed the door open for me, barely pausing to breath as she went on. “I really hate it when they mess up this stuff. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to write ‘spouse’ in the margins or something!” The woman laughed at her brilliance, going on. “Anyway, I’m sorry. We’ll fix it. How are you today?”
“I’m the veteran,” was all I said.
The woman stopped walking, shocked. “Oh. I didn’t…uh…I didn’t realize girls got injured in the military,” she offered weakly, her voice trailing off in complete confusion.
“Yeah. It happens.” That’s all I could think to say.
Thus was my introduction to life as a female veteran.
Once, during a ceremony at Mount Rushmore, the tour guide asked the veterans in the group to raise their hands. When I raised my hand, he glared at me and practically spat out “Darlin, I mean military veterans. Not their wives. You don’t serve.”
Another time, I sat in a pre-deployment brief filled to the brim with wives when the fiery boot lieutenant fresh from IOC and heading up the Remain Behind Element demanded that all the staff sergeants stand up. Then the sergeants. Then the corporals and so on and so forth. Confused, all kinds of wives stood up when their husband’s ranks were named. Then he shouted for everyone to sit down because none of them had earned any rank. I stayed standing.
He raced up to me and screamed right in my face to sit the f*ck down because I’d never served a day in my life. When I simply told him I was in the Marines, he walked away and never spoke another word to me.
It’s a thing, and it’s a fairly common thing that every female service member and veteran will experience, and often.
In fact, it’s such a common situation that female veterans and service members barely blink when it happens, and male veterans and service members don’t even realize it’s happening.
Recently, I asked some of my female veterans and active duty service member friends to share their experiences on being female veterans with me. I wasn’t at all surprised by some of the responses.
There is a female pilot that works with my husband. Every time she calls somewhere, she gets asked for her husband’s social. Prior to the Marines, she was a cop, so you’d think she’d be used to it and have found a solid way to avoid this. No. Even my own husband used to refer to her as “the female pilot” instead of just by her name like the rest of his buddies. It’s annoying as hell. Also, she isn’t even married.
Another friend, who went into finance post-Army, spoke about how, in the military, we are taught that we have to work twice as hard to appear to be half as professional as our male counterparts. It sucks but it’s true. We had an entire period of instruction in Marine bootcamp about having to hold ourselves to a far higher standard in order to be seen as even remotely equal to our male peers. But in the civilian world, doing that makes her seem “unapproachable” or “too intimidating,” and she gets told to “be more feminine.” How civilians equate “be more feminine” with “don’t be as professional as your male counterparts” is beyond me, but it’s a thing.
Then there is the female pilot who was told she probably should find a way to get out of SERE school (it’s required for all pilots) because what if she has her period during SERE? Sorry to break it to you, dudes, but periods happen. And, in case you didn’t know, our periods don’t alert bears or the Taliban to our presence.
Or the female who got promoted meritoriously to corporal and staff sergeant (in different commands, several years apart) and got asked several times (in complete seriousness) after each promotion who she sucked off to get the promotion. How many male service members get asked that after a feat like TWO meritorious promotions?
There is the reservist, who is also a new mother. At her last battle assembly, she inquired about where she could go to pump. Her commander stared at her like she’d grown three heads and refused to speak to her for the rest of the time. Also note, men: women have breasts, and after a baby, they require pumping. No one is asking for special treatment, just directions to the nearest head to dump some of her milk into a freaking bag.
That’s part of the problem. If a female asks to be treated with an ounce of respect, she’s accused of trying to get special treatment, so she doesn’t ask. She doesn’t demand or insist. For the most part, the female service members and veterans just suck it up and accept it as part of being a girl; they have to be careful around the fragile egos that might get offended if she acts like she might be an equal.
Montel Williams hosts “Military Makeover with Montel” on Lifetime. The show is currently seeking nominations for veterans in need of home makeovers. Photos by Caitlyn Martin, BrandStar, courtesy of the Kristen Rose Agency.
Saying thank you for your service is not enough, according to veteran and talk show icon Montel Williams. But he does have a few ideas on other ways to show gratitude for military service.
He’s teamed up with WWE to find the next veteran for a home makeover that will be featured on Lifetime TV’s “Military Makeover with Montel.”
“We take these veterans and we literally make their home over from top to bottom,” Williams said during a phone interview. “We do, not just a facelift, but everything, from the floors, the ceilings to you name it, to make sure the veteran has what we call a forever home once we get done.”
Since 2015 the show has worked with one veteran family per quarter to makeover their home within 10 days, with 20 homes completed to date. Most episodes, Williams said, have featured families who have been in the midst of transitioning from military to civilian life. A few have featured veterans who have already left the military, but Williams adds any deserving veteran family will be considered as long as they own their own home.
He’s personally been involved in making over six homes, having taken over the show after the death of Military Makeover’s previous host Lee Ermey.
Williams said the reactions on the show have been great, not just from the service members, but from everyone in the community. The show uses volunteers and donations from local vendors to renovate the homes.
“Everybody is uplifted,” Williams said.
Hosting a home makeover show is also a good way to show appreciation for a group Williams describes as underappreciated.
“I think it’s a really good way to do more than say ‘thank you for your service,'” Williams said.
Williams is a 22-year veteran who served in the Marine Corps and Navy before starting his television career. Like many veterans, he’s come to see the phrase ‘thank you for your service’ as hollow and meaningless.
“I’ve been saying this for over a year. When people say ‘thank you for your service’ it’s lip service or a passing phrase, like you say ‘good morning’ to people when you walk by and don’t even wait for a person’s response,” he said.
In addition to his own service, Williams is a longtime veterans’ advocate. He serves on the board of directors for the Fisher House — a charity providing lodging near DOD and VA facilities for the families of those receiving care. He also works with an organization that help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and has an upcoming project designed for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Williams launched a new national campaign to makeover the home of a veteran. (Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.)
Williams said he believes the current coronavirus pandemic has put showing genuine gratitude to veterans even further from the forefront of people’s minds.
“Right now, while we’re suffering through this COVID-19 pandemic, every day of the week people applaud our first responders. When they think about people on the frontline, they think about doctors, nurses and first responders to this virus here on U.S. soil,” Williams said. “We have ships and submarines and aircraft carriers and airplanes and deployed forward bases where people don’t have the same luxury of being able to social distance. These guys are out there every single day putting their lives on the line for us.”
While not everyone has the resources of a television legend, Williams insists there are things average people can do to show their appreciation to veterans.
“You don’t have to makeover a veteran’s home to contribute to a veteran’s life,” Williams said. He said providing meals, volunteering to babysit or mowing an injured veteran’s lawn are great ways for people to show their appreciation.
“Why not go out and do a gesture, not just of being a good neighbor, but deliberately doing something to help out our veterans?” Williams asked. “Remember that there’s a military family on every block in every community across this country. Reach out and do a little bit more than just say ‘thank you for your service.'”
Another way people can show appreciation is by going to Tag A Hero and nominating a veteran for a home makeover before May 31.
Williams has joined forces with WWE star Lacey Evans, a Marine veteran, to gain awareness for the new national campaign, but they are in need of more nominations.
“Lacey Evans, who is one of their stars, has become one of our team members on Military Makeover. She convinced [WWE] to reach out to their viewers to nominate veterans in their community,” Williams said.
The application submission deadline for the latest campaign is May 31st. On July 13, Montel Williams and WWE Superstar Lacey Evans will appear on Facebook and Instagram announcing the home makeover recipient.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. — Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.
Buffalo Wild Wings— Veterans and active-duty service members get a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries on November 11. The offer is available for dine-in or takeout.
California Pizza Kitchen–Veterans and active military get a complimentary meal from a select menu. Dine-in and walk-in takeout only.
Casey’s General Stores — Service members both past and present get a free coffee on November 11 across its over 2,200 locations.
Cattlemens— Active, inactive, and retired military personnel get a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner on November 11.
CentraArchy Restaurants — Veterans and active-duty military members get an entree from the full menu at any location for half price on November 11. Guests are encouraged to make reservations.
Chili’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Available for in-restaurant only.
Cicis Pizza— Active and retired military get a free adult buffet on November 11. Dine-in only. Coupon required.
Coco’s— On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.
Country Kitchen — Active and retired military get a free Country Scramble on November 11 at participating locations. Dine-in only.
Cracker Barrel — Veterans get a complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake when dining at any location on November 11.
Eat’n Park— All former and current military personnel and their families will receive a 10% discount for the entire month of November. Dine-in only.
Einstein Bros. Bagels — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee on November 11.
Famous Dave’s — Military personnel get a free Free Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich + Side at participating locations on November 11. Valid for Dine-In, To Go, and Online Ordering. Not valid for call in orders.
Farmer Boys— Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Big Cheese cheeseburger on November 11 at participating locations.
Friendly’s— Veterans and active-duty military get a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink on November 11. Dine-in only at participating locations.
Frisch’s Big Boy — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal, all day, up to $10 at participating locations on November 11. This tribute is available at Frisch’s dine-in, drive-thru and carryout.
Golden Corral — Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on November 11. Military retirees, veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.
Hamburger Stand — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hamburger, regular fries and a small Pepsi on November 11.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free Classic Burger (with or without cheese). This offer is redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone.
Houlihan’s— Veterans, active-duty military and military families get $10 off a $30 food purchase at participating locations on November 11. This offer is valid for in-restaurant dining or for carryout. Orders made via houlihans.com or a third-party delivery service are not eligible.
Hy-Vee— Veterans and active military members get a free curbside pickup breakfast November 11 from 6 – 10 a.m.
Kolache Factory — Veterans and active-duty military get a free kolache and a cup of coffee on November 11 from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
LaMar’s Donuts— Veterans and active-duty military get a free donut and 12 oz. coffee at participating locations on November 11.
Little Caesars — Veterans and active military get a free HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo at participating stores on November 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Logan’s Roadhouse — On November 11 between 3 and 6 pm, veterans and military personnel receive a free meal from a special menu.
Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ — Active-duty personnel and veterans get a free Lucille’s Original Pulled Pork Sandwich on November 11.
Luna Grill— Veterans and active-duty service members get a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from November 11 through 13, valid for dine-in or to-go orders. (Not valid online or delivery.)
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants— Veterans, National Guard, Gold Star parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée from a special menu on November 8. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Menchie’s— Veterans who visit stores on November 11 get their first 6 oz of froyo free.
Mission BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich on November 11.
O’Charley’s– Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Pilot Flying J— Veterans get a free breakfast combo at participating locations November 9 through 15 through a special offer in the app.
Red Lobster— Veterans, active-duty military and reservists get a free appetizer or dessert from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.
Red Robin – Veterans and active-duty military who are Red Robin Royalty members can redeem a free Tavern Double Burger with Steak Fries any time between November 12 and 30 for dine-in or to-go. The offer will be automatically uploaded to your dashboard.
Sagebrush Steakhouse— Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Shari’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.
Shoney’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free All You Care To Eat, Freshly Prepared Breakfast Bar on November 11 until 11 am. Dine-in only.
Starbucks— Veterans, military service members and military spouses get a free tall (12-oz) hot brewed coffeeat participating stores on November 11.
Tap House Grill— Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Wienerschnitzel — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Chili Dog, small fries and a small drink at participating locations on November 11.
Yard House — Veterans and active duty military receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11.
2019 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:
151 Coffee — Military personnel are invited to bring your family for free drinks on November 11.
Ahipoki — Veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off any bowl at all locations across Arizona and California on November 11.
Another Broken Egg Cafe — Veterans and active-duty service members can enjoy a free Patriot French Toast Combo and coffee on November 11.
Applebee’s — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a special menu on November 11.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service — The Exchange will feature one-day only specials on November 11, including a free coffee for all shoppers at Express and participating Exchange restaurant locations. And MILITARY STAR cardholders will earn double points November 11 andadditional discounts with their card.
Aroma Joe’s Coffee — Veterans and active-duty military get up to a 24oz drink for free on November 11.
Aspen Creek Grill— Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal from a special menu from 11 a.m. to close on November 11.
Biggby Coffee — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free brewed coffee up to 24 oz. on November 11.
Bombshells Restaurant and Bar— Veterans and active-duty military get free meals and soft drinks and a 20% discount for accompanying family members on November 11.
Bonanza Steakhouses— Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.
Bruegger’s Bagels — Active-duty military members, veterans, reservists and military spouses get a free bagel with cream cheese on November 11.
Buffalo Wings & Rings — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free “Pick 2” Lunch Combo on November 11 between 11 am and 3 pm.
Burntwood Tavern— Veterans and active military get a free lunch or dinner on November 11.
Calhoun’s— Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11.
Cantina Laredo— Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal up to $20 at participating locations on November 11.
Carrabba’s — This Veterans Day weekend, veterans and active-duty military receive a free calamari and 10% off on all future visits.
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse— Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. on November 11.
Chicken Salad Chick — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military will receive a free Chick Special and Regular Drink.
Chipotle— Active-duty military, reserves, national guard, military spouses and retired military get a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal on November 11.
Chop House — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.
City Barbecue— Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich, two sides, and a regular beverage on November 11.
Claim Jumper— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free entree up to $15 from a special menu.
Coffee Beanery— Veterans and active-duty military get a free tall cup of fresh brewed coffee all day on November 11.
Connors Steak & Seafood — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.
Cotton Patch Cafe — Veterans and active-duty military get a free chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken on November 11.
Country Cookin — Active, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the military receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree on November 11 when showing a valid military ID and filling out the service card.
Crooked Pint Ale House — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item on November 11 at participating locations.
Cumberland Farms — Veterans, active-duty, reserve, National Guard or honorably discharged military personnel get a free coffee on November 11.
Denny’s— Veterans and military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on November 11, from 5 a.m. to noon.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Classic Sandwich and choice of side on November 11.
Dunkin’ Donuts— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive a free donut at participating locations.
Fatz Cafe— Veterans and active military get a free World Famous Calabash Chicken basket on November 11. And from November 1 through 30, veterans and active military members will receive 20% off their entrée.
Huddle House— Active-duty, retired, and veteran military members get a free order of Sweet Cakes November 8 through 11.
Hurricane Grill and Wings— Veterans and active military get a free entrée from a special menu on November 11. Plus, participating guests will also receive a card for 10% off future visits through December 31.
IHOP— Veterans and active-duty military get a free red, white, and blueberry pancake combo on November 11 at participating locations.
IKEA — Veterans get a free meal November 9 through 11.
Insomnia Cookies — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free traditional cookie all week, November 11 through 17.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant— On November 10 and 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a complimentary burger or sandwich along with a non-alcoholic beverage.
J. Christopher’s –Veterans get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.
Jimboy’s Tacos — Veterans get a free meal on November 11 at participating locations. Meals have a $10 max value.
Joe’s Crab Shack — Veterans receive 20% off at participating locations on November 11.
Juice It Up — Veterans and active military receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie on November 11 at participating locations.
K&W Cafeterias— Veterans and active-duty get a free meal on November 11 from 11 am until closing.
Kwik Fill — Veterans receive a free coffee on November 11.
LongHorn Steakhouse — Veterans get 10% off your entire meal and a free appetizer or dessert on November 11.
Lucky Girl Brewing — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free pulled pork or brisket sandwich with a side at Lucky Girl Brewing or a free flat bread pizza at B52 Winery on November 9, 10, and 11.
Lucky Strike Entertainment — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get complimentary 1 hour of bowling, as well as a burger and beer for $10 on November 11.
Macaroni Grill— Veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti on November 11.
MacKenzie River — Veterans and active-duty military receive 25% off for their entire table on November 11.
Main Event — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 30 minutes of game play that can be used on more than 100 interactive video games and a free entrée from a special menu.
Manhattan Bagel Company — All active, former and retired military personnel get a free bagel and cream cheese at participating locations on November 11.
Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub— On November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm, veterans and active military get a free lunch from a select menu with purchase of an entree.
Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom— Active-duty service members and veterans get a free Specialty or up to 3 topping individual pizza with purchase, November 8 through 11 at participating locations. Not valid at OC Logan or OC Manhattan.
Old Country Buffet— On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.
On the Border— On November 11, active and retired service members receive a free meal from a select menu at participating locations.
Orange Leaf— Retired and active-duty military receive free froyo at participating locations on November 11.
Otter’s Chicken — Active, Guard/Reserve, retirees and former service members get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.
Paisano’s Pizza — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Large 1-Topping Pizza on November 11.
Pala Casino — Veterans and active-duty military get a free buffet on November 11.
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 3-course pork chop dinner on November 10 from 4 to 9 p.m. Each veteran must be accompanied by at least one guest who purchases an entree or Sunday Supper Special.
Ponderosa— Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.
Price Chopper Supermarkets — Veterans, active-duty, reserve and national guard military get a free 12oz. Coffee & Donut on November 11.
Primanti Bros. — Active or retired military can enjoy a free Primanti Bros. Almost Famous sandwich November 10 and 11.
Quaker Steak & Lube — Veterans, active-duty and Reservist service members get free or discounted meals at participating locations on November 11.
RA Sushi — Veterans, active and retired military can enjoy a complimentary shareable on November 11, available all day.
Rock and Brews— Veterans and active military personnel receive a complimentary pulled pork sandwich or salad on November 11.
Rodizio Grill — Veterans eat free November 11 through 14 with the purchase of at least one Adult Full Rodizio meal at participating locations.
Roy Rogers — Present a military ID or proof of service to receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill — Get a buy one entree get one free deal on November 11 with coupon and military ID.
Ruby Tuesday— Former and active-duty service members get a free Burger or Sandwich served with fries or tots on November 11.
Ryan’s— On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.
Sauce Pizza & Wine — On November 11, all locations will honor veterans with 25% off their bill.
Scooter’s Coffee — Veterans and current military personnel get a free drink of any size on November 11.
Shane’s Rib Shack— Active-duty military and veterans get a free sandwich, regular side, and 20-oz. beverage November 11 through 13 at participating locations.
Sheetz— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free 6 inch turkey sub and a regular size fountain drink. Sheetz locations offering car washes will also provide a free car wash to veterans and active-duty military.
Sizzler— Veterans get a free complete lunch from a special menu on November 11 at participating locations until 4 pm.
Smashburger — Veterans and active-duty military get a free double burger on November 11 with any purchase.
Smokey Bones — Veterans and active-duty military get a free dessert from a select menu on November 11.
Smoothie King — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free 20 oz. smoothie.
Snarf’s Sandwiches — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free 7 inch non-specialty sandwich on November 11.
Sonny’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Pulled or Sliced Pork Big Deal combo on November 11.
Spaghetti Warehouse— From November 9 through 11, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required.
sweetFrog— Veterans and active military personnel get a free 12-oz yogurt on November 11.
Taco Mac— On November 11, active military members and veterans get a free 6-pack of wings with purchase a drink.
TCBY — Veterans and active military personnel get their first 6 oz. of frozen yogurt for free on November 11 with valid proof of service at participating locations.
Texas de Brazil— Veterans receive 50% off dinner November 11 through 13 during dinner hours.
Texas Roadhouse— Veterans and active-duty military get a free lunch on November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm.
If you’re a fan of the Houston Astros, Friday, July 27, was a miserable night. The Astros suffered a humiliating 11-2 defeat on their home field, Minute Maid Park, at the hands of their same-state rivals, the Texas Rangers. But by the game’s end, nobody was talking about the 9-run deficit. Instead, they were talking about a Marine Corps veteran — and true American hero — dropped trow and ran across the field at the game’s conclusion, wearing only a pair of Ol’ Glory silkies and shoes.
Chris White, a Houston native and president of Freedom Hard, took to the field in front of 42,592 baseball fans in a display that would bring a tear of joy to any red, white, and blue-blooded American. He made it all the way across the outfield, dodging security guards who were no match for his skill. White eventually put his hands up, surrendering after earning the love and admiration of the country.
In case you’ve missed this beautiful display of patriotism, here’s the video:
All joking aside, Chris White’s Freedom Hard is a veteran owned and operated company that uses humor (like the now-infamous streak) to raise awareness of issues within the veteran community. When he was interviewed by Houston’s KPRC 2, he opened up about his motivations.
The streaking, as hilarious as it was, gave him a soap box to briefly stand on and speak to the world about a deadly serious issue that affects many veterans: suicide.
“If I can make you laugh for at least five minutes, then you’re not thinking about that dark space you could potentially be in,” he said. “If I can gear it toward patriotism, to me, I consider that the Holy Grail.”
You bring credit upon the Corps, the military community, and the United States of America.
A GoFundMe campaign was started in his honor (to post his bail) and it quickly raised 0.00. Instead of using cash, he donated every last cent to Camp4Heroes, a North Carolina resort that provides a tranquil environment for struggling veterans to enjoy nature.
Every aspect of Freedom Hard is geared towards giving back to the veteran community. A dollar of every sale is directly donated to the buyer’s choice of a non-profit organization supporting veterans.