2GIG and ELAN Smart Home Gifted by the Gary Sinise Foundation Provides U.S. Army CPT Jake Murphy with the Control He Needs

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Disabled Veteran with his family standing outside their smart home

While on a mission in Afghanistan on July 23, 2011, a pressure plate improvised explosive device detonated beneath U.S. Army Captain Jake Murphy, immediately taking his left foot and causing an anoxic brain injury that put him into a coma.

Against all odds, Murphy emerged from his coma four weeks later and was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he eventually lost both of his legs.

Recognizing Cpt. Murphy’s immense bravery, the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program provided him and his family a specially adapted smart home with technologies by Nortek Security & Control in an effort to help improve and simplify everyday life for the family of four.

“When designing this home for Captain Murphy and his family, simplicity was key,” said Jason Hanifan of Comware AV, the ELAN dealer that designed the home technology solution. “With that in mind, we personalized the ELAN Control System to make it easy for the whole family to control all the integrated technologies in the 3,598 square foot home.”

Comware AV built the system with an ELAN gSC10 as the main system controller, with an ELAN S1616A providing audio distribution and a 8×8 HDBaseT™ Matrix for video. The Murphy family can manage their home’s security, audio, video, Lutron® lighting, fans and shades, plus thermostats, and door locks through ELAN HR30 remotes in the family room and master bedroom, ELAN 7” Touch Panels in the kitchen and master bedroom, as well as through the ELAN app on their smart devices and with voice control through ELAN’s Amazon Alexa® integration.

With security being essential to the family, Hanifan and his team installed a 2GIG security system with over 40 sensors wirelessly connected to a 2GIG GC3 panel, which is integrated into the ELAN control system. According to Hanifan, “In addition to the intrusion sensors, we added 2GIG Glass Break Detectors to monitor for the sound of breaking glass in the home, 2GIG Motion Detectors, ten 2GIG Smoke Detectors, plus Carbon Monoxide Detectors.”

Murphy and his family can easily review the status of their home’s doors and windows before leaving the house or turning in for the night, using the GC3 panel, two 2GIG SP1 secondary touchscreens or any of their ELAN interfaces. If a door is left open, the 2GIG system will annunciate exactly which doors or window are open, and where. For further security, an ELAN network video recorder captures video from six ELAN surveillance cameras, all which can be managed from within the ELAN app.

To simplify the home control, Hanifan and the Comware AV team personalized automated scenes, such as “good night,” which automatically locks the doors and adjusts the lights, or “away” which automatically locks the doors, turn off the lights and sets the thermostats to a certain energy-saving level. “By initiating the ‘relax’ scene, the lights will switch to their designated level and the TV will go on,” said Hanifan. “With ELAN, the scene options are endless, which is ideal for Captain Murphy and his family. For example, when he wakes up in the morning he simply needs to say ‘good morning’ and everything will adjust to his desired settings. It’s that easy.”

For the Murphy family, music and entertainment are important aspects of home life. The Comware AV team installed 18 SpeakerCraft AIM282 speakers to maximize audio performance, and added a 1,000-watt Sunfire HRS10 subwoofer so the family can really “feel” the entertainment in the media room.

To ensure that all of the home’s technology receives uncompromised power for optimal operation, the system components plug into a Panamax M4315-PRO power conditioner with BlueBOLT® remote power management, while a Panamax MB-1500 battery backup guarantee protects the system in case of a power outage.

According to Scott Schaeperkoetter, Director of Operations for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, the smart home system has completely transformed everyday life for the Murphy family. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the lives of these veterans and with Nortek Security & Control’s line of smart home and security solutions, we’re able to completely customize the smart home technology in each home to fit the individual needs of the veteran and their family,” he said. “We’re honored to be able to support their journey to regain their independence.”

About ELAN
ELAN®, from Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award, and continues to expand its intuitive functionality with security, climate, surveillance and video distribution products and integrations. To learn more, visit www.elanhomesystems.com.

About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for security dealers, technology integrators, national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, and consumers. Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

20 US Veterans, Aged 28-92, to Skydive at the National WWI Museum and Memorial this Veterans Day

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older veteran shaking hands with a group of younf soldiers in uniform

In commemoration of Veterans Day, the National WWI Museum and Memorial serves as a fitting place to honor those who have served — and continue to serve — our country. To recognize these men and women, admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active duty military personnel from Saturday, Nov. 7 through Sunday, Nov. 15. General admission for the public is half-price on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

A “Legacy Jump” will kick off the Nov. 11 Veterans Day activities at 6:30 a.m. CT Led by Purple Heart Recipient, former Navy SEAL and extreme sports enthusiast, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, the “Legacy Jump” will feature an All Veteran Group parachute team who will tandem skydive a veteran from each war – World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan War & Iraq War, as well as Sept. 11 – and land on the Museum and Memorial’s North Lawn. The veterans range in age from 28 to 92.

Parrott will cap off the jump with a symbolic WWI Soldier & “Missing Man” BASE Jump from the 217-foot Liberty Memorial Tower in honor of POW-MIAs and a war that is talked about infrequently. The “Legacy Jump” will bring together generations of veterans, including news host Pete Hegseth, to raise funds and awareness for veteran and first responder causes through the Bird’s Eye View Project.

“We’re excited to host this special ‘Legacy Jump’ on Veterans Day,” says Dr. Matthew Naylor, president & CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.  “We are proud to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.”

Additionally, the Museum and Memorial will offer a wide variety of events throughout Veterans Day. A free, public Veterans Day Ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. CT in the Memorial Courtyard with a keynote address from Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will deliver a special reading. This year’s abbreviated ceremony, along with all other Veterans Day special events, will be held outdoors with social distancing and masks to ensure the public can celebrate our veterans safely.

Following the ceremony, at 11 a.m. CT, locally-based Cars 4 Heroes will be giving away 11 vehicles to veterans on the North Lawn. The bi-annual Walk of Honor dedication ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. CT, followed by a special outdoor performance from the Kansas City Symphony. Their Mobile Music Box will be on the Southeast Lawn from 3 – 5 p.m. CT.

Support for Veterans Day is provided by Jackson County Executive and County Legislators and Weather or Not.

VETERANS DAY ACTIVITIES: Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

LEGACY JUMP

When: 6:30 a.m. CT

Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, North Lawn

What: Organized by the Bird’s Eye View Project and led by Purple Heart Recipient, former Navy SEAL from Team 7 and extreme sports enthusiast, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott. An All Veteran Group parachute team will tandem skydive a veteran from each war – World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan War & Iraq War, as well as Sept. 11 – and land on the Museum and Memorial’s North Lawn. Parrott will cap off the event with a symbolic WWI Soldier & “Missing Man” BASE Jump from the 217-foot Liberty Memorial tower.

VETERANS DAY CEREMONY

When: 10 a.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard
What: Join us for a moving ceremony honoring our nation’s veterans with a keynote address from Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Mayor Quinton Lucas will deliver a special reading. This year’s abbreviated ceremony will be outdoors to ensure we can celebrate our veterans safely. Please dress warmly, practice social distancing and wear a mask. FREE to the public.

LIVING HISTORY VOLUNTEERS

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard and Paul Sunderland Bridge
What: History is brought to life with our Living History Volunteers who will be available for social distanced pictures. FREE to the public.

CARS 4 HEROES CEREMONY

When: 11 a.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, North Lawn
What: For 24 years, Cars 4 Heroes has provided free, basic, reliable transportation to Veterans, First Responders and their families, that otherwise are not able to obtain transportation for themselves. Join us for a moving ceremony as the organization hands over the keys of 11 cars to deserving individuals.

WALK OF HONOR DEDICATION CEREMONY

When: 2 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Memorial Courtyard
What: More than 100 new Walk of Honor granite bricks will be dedicated during a special ceremony. The Walk of Honor is divided into three sections: bricks dedicated solely to those who served in World War I; bricks dedicated to veterans of any military service; and bricks that honor civilian friends, family or organizations. Walk of Honor bricks are dedicated twice each year during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. FREE to the public.

KANSAS CITY SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE

When: 3 – 5 p.m. CT
Where: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Southeast Lawn
What: At a time when audiences cannot visit indoor venues, the Symphony is taking the music on the road to reach music lovers and families in every corner of the metropolitan area. Kansas City Symphony’s new outdoor stage on wheels, the Mobile Music Box, will be on the Museum and Memorial’s Southeast Lawn for a 3 p.m. CT performance. FREE to the public.

About the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum and Memorial takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National WWI Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.

About the Birds Eye View Project

The Birds Eye View Project (BEVP) uses extreme sports to raise funds and awareness for veteran and first responder charities. Veteran and former Navy SEAL, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott knew that it takes big events to make a significant impact. That’s what this is. That’s why we are here. One man’s idea of running from Dallas to Waco in 24 hours to raise $100K for charity, turned into a charity that performs over-the-top stunts to impact those who need it most – veteran and First-responders injured in the line of duty – raising funds and awareness for small charities that need help doing their awesome work.

Photo Credit: The National WWI Museum and Memorial

USVM talks with Shawn Driscoll, Co-Founder of Loop Media, Inc., about his experience in the Military and more

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Shawn Driscoll smiling wearing a black and white t-shirt with the word Loop on it

USVM: What was your personal experience as a veteran, and how did the values you learned in the military influence the creation of Loop Media?

SD: Veterans have something that not everyone has the opportunity to experience. Discipline and commitment is the approach to life that we follow. The Marine Corps teaches you chain of command, commitment, discipline, and teamwork as core principles. The most important thing that the Marine Corps taught me is to never quit on your commitment. It’s critical to your success.

USVM: How has your collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus led you to develop a passion for music videos?

SD: I was involved in the Achy Breaky Heart 2 music video, around when Mylie Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball was blowing up. It was done as somewhat of a joke but it was viewed millions of times. Popular music videos are seeing people tuning into them like never before. Videos have taken center stage, with 40% of YouTube traffic being music videos. Videos are a mainstay of entertainment globally, more so than in the U.S and it’s a powerful medium to entertain.

USVM: How can reopened businesses keep patrons engaged through streaming content, and what types of content do they respond to best?

SD: Content that is short form is responded to best. Content like movie trailers, music videos, viral videos, sports highlights, drone footage from around the world are the forms of entertainment that is consumed out of home. This will get people to move away from their phone and engage with their surroundings. The goal is to move them to engage with Loop’s platforms when out and about.

USVM: Why is the future of streaming outside the home, and how the streaming giants are missing a tremendous opportunity in that arena?

SD: Everyone is trying to find the secret formula. Loop is the only one aggressively going after the market of short-form content outside the home. Spotify is focused on mobile. Apple and Amazon on content creators. At Loop we believe that building a network outside of the home is an untapped market that no one is going after.

USVM: What advice would you give veterans who wish to start their own businesses, as well as entrepreneurs looking to break into the entertainment industry?

SD: You need commitment to see things through and achieve your dreams and goals. Loop grew from an idea that we wanted to build a competitor to VEVO. It has grown to so much more than that now but it all started with one idea. Have a vision and be prepared to grind. In the Marine Corps, you are taught to do this in a unique way. Work hard, and make sure someone notices the hard work. Tell your story, and make sure someone listens to it. You only get out of life what you demand so be passionate about it. You are the one that has the ability to make it happen.

Variety Announces Salute to Service Special Premiering Veterans Day on the History Channel

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Variety's Salute to Service promo poster

The fourth annual VARIETY’S SALUTE TO SERVICE PRESENTED BY HISTORY® AND VOICES MAGNIFIED, a celebration honoring our veterans and servicemembers and contributions by various individuals who continue to shine a light on the military and related organizations, was recently announced.

The special will air on The HISTORY® Channel on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11th at 10pm ET / PT. The special will include appearances by Trace Adkins, Kevin Bacon, Bryan Cranston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mario Lopez, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Ripa, Shaggy and Gary Sinise as they pay tribute to the courageous servicemembers.

The program will highlight organizations such as Headstrong, Team Rubicon, The Bush Institute, Gary Sinise Foundation and the USO – which will showcase its work with the troops since its inception and its current initiatives during Covid-19.

Bryan Cranston will present the USO segment which is a non-profit partner of the program. Also featured will be Verizon, which employs more than 10,000 veterans as part of its workforce. In 2020, for the third year in a row, Verizon was voted the #1 Military Friendly Company for its commitment to serving the military community.

“Words cannot express our gratitude to the veterans for all their sacrifices for our freedom, but this Veterans Day, we strive to honor those fearless men and women.  It was crucial to us to keep our annual Salute to Service event going and to pay tribute and recognize those who have given so much to keep our country safe and strong,” said PMC Vice Chairman, Gerry Byrne. Byrne is a United Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and works across all of PMC’s platforms to support veteran’s initiatives.  “We are thankful for the continued support by The HISTORY Channel.”

“Variety’s Salute to Service is an important opportunity to honor our nations veterans and service members and give a platform to many of the excellent organizations out there who are helping veterans and military families,” said Paul Buccieri, President, A+E Networks Group. “Honoring and celebrating our veterans and military families has been a long-term priority for The HISTORY Channel and A+E Networks and we are proud to have the opportunity to get these organizations in front of viewers and encourage our audiences to learn more about their vital work.”

The HISTORY Channel has an on-going commitment to mobilizing support for veterans and military families through the award-winning Mission to Honor initiative which acknowledges the many vital contributions of veterans and shares their stories across all platforms. Through this initiative, The HISTORY Channel collaborates with many of the nation’s leading veterans’ organizations to help showcase the many ways veterans and military families give back to their communities through service.

ABOUT VARIETY

Now celebrating its 115th year anniversary, Variety is the seminal voice of the entertainment industry. Featuring award-winning breaking news reporting, insightful award-season coverage, must-read feature spotlights and intelligent analysis of the industry’s most prominent players, Variety is the trusted source for the business of global entertainment. Read by a highly engaged audience of industry insiders, Variety’s multi-platform content coverage expands across digital, mobile, social, print and branded content, events and summits.

In May 2019, Variety’s “Actors on Actors” on PBS took home a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy award  and has been awarded the Emmy for best entertainment programming at the 67th and 68th Emmy Awards. “Actors on Actors,” an interview special that features pairings of prominent actors discussing their craft, was produced by PBS SoCal in partnership with Variety Media, LLC. Follow Variety on Facebook facebook.com/variety; Twitter, @variety; Instagram, @Variety The Variety Group – Variety, Variety.com, Variety Insight, Indiewire,– is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of Penske Media Corporation.

ABOUT The HISTORY® Channel

The HISTORY Channel, a division of A+E Networks, is the premier destination for historical storytelling. From best-in-class documentary events, to a signature slate of industry leading nonfiction series and premium fact-based scripted programming, HISTORY serves as the most trustworthy source of informational entertainment in media. For a deeper dive, visit history.com or follow @history on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

About the USO:
The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission and learn more about the USO, please visit USO.org or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Pin-Ups for Vets To Conduct Live Veterans Day Video Panel November 9

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Pin-ups for vets poster featured four models in authentic 50's style dresses

Pin-Ups for Vets, a 501(c)(3) that benefits hospitalized veterans, will be conducting a free live video Q&A with its founder Gina Elise and four military veteran ambassadors on Monday, November 9 at 1 p.m. ET, which veterans and other fans can view live on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube. They will talk about their military service, what Veterans Day means to them, and the 2021 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar, which annually raises thousands for the charity.

“The more I heard about the uphill battles of our Wounded Warriors,” explained Elise about her founding of Pin-Ups for Vets, “the more convinced I was of the need to produce a project that would bring in funds to support all of our hospitalized Veterans.”

In addition, Elise will join “Stranger Things” actress Jennifer Marshall (Navy), Linsay Rousseau (Army), who voices the character of Elita-1 in “Transformers: War for Cybertron,” Megan Martine (Marines), and Shannon Corbeil (Air Force) to conduct paid “one on five” live video chats with individual fans beginning at 2 p.m. ET, with all proceeds going to the nonprofit. Fans can sign up for the live video chat as well as purchase a calendar as part of a special package here.

Wizard World, which has produced pop culture events for 20+ years, has been conducting Virtual Experiences with celebrities, artists, authors, directors and more, and is proud to support this great cause through its platforms.

The Pin-Ups for Vets 2021 Calendar is the 15th edition, and features 12 female veterans posing as pin-ups. To date, Pin-Ups for Vets has donated more than $70,000 worth of state-of-the-art rehab equipment for VA and military hospitals nationwide.

“My late Grandpa Lou served in the Army for 4 years during World War II,” added Elise. “I wanted to do something to honor his name. I always loved the romance of those bygone eras—especially the 1940’s—and I drew inspiration from the World War II pin-up girls, whose photos and paintings boosted morale for our soldiers fighting overseas.”

Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Credits Military Skills as Foundation for His Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® Business

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Steven Cordova headshots side by side military uniform and business clothes

Steven Cordova, Modesto resident and veteran, recently launched operations as a franchisee with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

The 43-year-old services California’s Central Valley which includes Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, Oakdale, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Stockton, Lodi, Merced, Atwater, Bridgeport, Sonora, Mariposa, Yosemite Valley and Los Banos.

Cordova was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force for 24 years.  He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Travis Air Force Base in California and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. In addition, he was stationed internationally at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, Lajes Field in Azores, Portugal and Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan.

“I always had the ambition to operate my own business and the military provided me with the tools and discipline necessary in business,” said Cordova. “With Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ startup program and franchisee support system, I knew that achieving my goal was obtainable. I look forward to what the future brings and the challenges ahead because I know that with the foundation the military has given me and the corporate team at my side, I will be successful.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com

How Have You Used Your Military Crisis Skills During the Pandemic?

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three small business owners pictured in a collage

We at US Veterans Magazine asked the owners of three very different veteran-owned small businesses how their own military crisis skills have benefitted each of their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they had to say:

Cesar Nader, President & CEO, X Corp Solutions, Inc.

X Corp Solutions, Inc., is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in language training, culture immersion and regional knowledge. The company offers leadership workshops, workforce development and career transition seminars for professionals and organizations. X Corp has a diversified portfolio serving military, federal government, state and local, private sector and international clients in five states across the Unites States (HI, CA, NC, MD and VA) and is looking to expand into new markets. X Corp is also a Disadvantaged Minority Small Business Entity or 8(a), GSA certified schedule holder (MOBIS Schedule), Top Secret Facility Level Cleared (FLC) entity, ISO certified in 9001-2015-Quality Management Systems and 27000–Information Security Management. For more information, visit xcorpsolutions.com

Before the government declared any objectives or guidelines for the country, we put in place a three-phased plan with five levels of employee conditions. I would be happy to share that plan. Just as with any military crisis, we brought our “CORE-4” team together—which included our top managers—and began putting together a plan of how we could ensure that our customers would get their missions accomplished. We planned for every level of action and met daily for this pre-phase I implementation. We also planned to make sure we could keep each one of our employees on the payroll, even before there was any Payment Protection Program Loan or CARES Act in place. The swift and immediate implementation of our plan in early March allowed us to instill confidence and trust in our employees, and earned us the same from our customers. Our partners were also eager to learn about our plan and asked if we could share it so they could implement it. Our ability to draw on my military training to plan for contingencies and emergencies was critical in showing a calm and effective leadership posture, and allowed me to teach my team how to perform in the midst of chaos. The outcome has been remarkably effective in how our XMen, customers, partners and allies trust us to lead the way—and let them know that in the face of adversity and panic, we’ve got their backs.

Kathleen Ford, Co-Owner & CEO, scDataCom

scDataCom, LLC, a nationally-recognized small business specializing in the design, installation and service of physical and electronic security systems for public and private sector clients, was just certified by the State of New York as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB). scDataCom is also recognized by the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) for its service-disabled veteran-owned status.

The pandemic of 2020 had a profound impact on the nation, with many small businesses suffering a fatal, unrecoverable blow. scDataCom fell within the “essential services” umbrella as our team supports critical infrastructure, so our trucks continued to roll, but not without considerable disruption, chaos, fear, and adaptation required to do old things in new ways. My military experience and that of our staff (over 50 percent of our team are veterans) trained us well for this one—changing plans is a military norm, and we are experts in the pivot. In the short term, scDataCom took the opportunity to provide security services for our small business customers who felt vulnerable leaving their vacant shops unmanned; we were able to set up cameras in a main business corridor and provide remote viewing for business owners to “watch the shop” while quarantined. As things are returning to the new normal, we are adapting our sales strategy, launching a subscription/lease service for cash-strapped businesses who need access control or video solutions, and pursuing additional work in sectors less affected by current economics, such as the federal and construction sectors.

Al Lopez, President & CEO, Alma Coffee

Al Lopez is the Veteran Business Owner (VBO) of Alma Coffee & Finca Terrerito, a coffee roastery and coffee farm focused on improving the lives of many, implementing sustainable practices in everything they do and the production of extraordinary coffee. As a 4th generation coffee farmer, Lopez sources coffee directly from his own farm in Honduras (@fincaterrerito) and from other farmers he knows directly (almadoptions). On the coffee roasting side (Alma Coffee), they expertly roast based on the natural properties inside the coffee and take pride roasting on an American-made Loring Smart Roaster, the most fuel-efficient coffee roaster on the market, emitting 80 percent less emissions than other conventional roasters. For more information, visit myalmacoffee.com

The answer is Plan, Simplify and Execute. As a military man, I plan for everything, but the pandemic was not one I had planned for—I missed it completely! Our business, Alma Coffee (@myalmacoffee) took a significant and direct hit. We went to zero revenue overnight; our café and wholesale customers shut down. Other coffee roasters who purchase green bean (coffee bean prior to roasting) from my Finca Terrerito farm were also operating at very low capacity levels and had paused on most purchases. Instead of panicking, the skills I acquired in the military kicked in. Comradery in the military creates a sense of invincibility, where nothing can ever hurt you, and this is the culture we want to create in all our businesses.

At Alma Coffee we followed and continue to follow the Infantry motto, ‘Forever Forward.’ When the pandemic hit, we gathered our team of six, shared ideas, decided on the next steps and gave each member the tools needed to succeed. We reached out to all of our friends and family, our community and all others in our network to ask for help. I did a video for the VIB (Veterans in Business – https://myalmacoffee.com/pages/supportvib) network and asked them to please purchase Alma Coffee. We were brutally honest and informed them that without their purchases, we would not survive. We pivoted and moved forward aggressively to develop our online business. With the pandemic, the majority of the world has continued to drink coffee, but where and who they purchase from has changed. We decided to execute a strategy of being within arms distance of the customer. For us, this meant contactless home delivery via online ordering. The online e-commerce world is fairly new to us so there has been a lot of trial and error, but we are quick to learn and passionate about doing things right and delighting the customer!  I am proud to say we have not missed a payroll check; we have paid all of our bills and are more motivated than ever to continue following the Infantry’s ‘Forever Forward’ motto. We are beyond blessed to work in the coffee industry, the second most traded commodity in the world.

Photos: pictured top; Al Lopez: Image credit: Clay Goswick Photography; bottom left, Kathleen Ford: Image credit: Apt. B Photography; bottom right, Cesar Nader, President & CEO, X Corp Solutions, Inc.

 

Iraq War Veteran Launches Luxury Fragrance Line for Men and Women

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bottle of triangle fragrance surrounded by rose petals

U.S. Army special operations military veteran Magda Khalifa recently launched Triangle Fragrance—a luxury fragrance line for men and women inspired by the Freedom Triangle Framework and introduced in her memoir, American DREAM: Discipline, Resilience, Endurance, Adaptability and Mentorship.

“Confidence” for women is an alluring floral and woody scent, featuring notes of lavender, rose, and whiskey. “Victory” for men is a very masculine scent created with notes of Cuban tobacco, Russian leather and bourbon.

After two tours in Iraq, Khalifa struggled with transition and health issues. In the aftermath of exposure to toxic burn pits in the combat zone, Khalifa became very aware of toxicities in environments that affect people’s health.

“From the battlefield through my post war journey, I realized the power of smells and scents.

I set out to create unique, beautiful fragrances that correspond to the points of the Freedom Triangle,” said Khalifa, explaining that Confidence and Victory represent the first point, Time Freedom.

Features of Triangle Fragrances include:

– vegan-friendly, cruelty-free

– made with plant-based alcohol

– made without parabens, sulfates, triclosan, phthalates, mineral oil, or dyes

“It’s fundamental to my values and to the brand that the fragrances are made in America, and that ingredients and production reflect a very high quality,” Khalifa explained.

Triangle Fragrances are long-lasting eau de parfums, with 18 percent concentration of fragrance oils. The stunning packaging features an elegant collector’s card inside, offering written inspiration and motivation to its owner.

The brand showcases models from all walks of life on its social media, many of whom have never modeled before. “It is an honor to share the stories of many great Americans who literally embody the spirit of the fragrance they represent,” said Khalifa.

The next Triangle Fragrances, called the white line, was released in summer. These scents will represent Health Freedom in the Freedom Triangle. When the series is complete, the colors of the bottles and boxes will reveal red, white, and blue.

Retailers interested in carrying the next great American brand are encouraged to contact info@trianglefragrance.com.

Triangle Fragrance is available now, exclusively online at trianglefragrance.com.

Source: Triangle Fragrance

Gary Sinise releases video honoring oldest US vet for 111th birthday: WW2 vet Lawrence Brooks

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Lawrence Brooks seated, smiling

On Sunday, actor and veterans advocate Gary Sinise honored Lawrence Brooks, a U.S. Army veteran who last month turned 111-years-old. Brooks, an African American, is America’s oldest living military veteran.

Brooks’ September birthday was initially celebrated with a military flyover, but Sinise also reached out to Brooks to share a personal message with the veteran. The Gary Sinise Foundation combined Sinise’s video message with footage from his birthday celebrations and an interview with a young Navy veteran neighbor who had the chance to meet Brooks.

On Sunday, the Gary Sinise Foundation tweeted, “We are thrilled to honor Lawrence Brooks who recently celebrated his 111th birthday, becoming America’s oldest living WWII veteran. Lawrence served from 1940-1945 with the 91st Engineer Battalion, in both New Guinea and the Philippines.”

“What an incredible journey you have had in your life, and you’re still out there giving,” Sinise said.

Sinise’s comments were interspersed with interview comments from Aveja Garrison, Brooks’ neighbor, who said once he learned Brooks is a 111-year-old veteran “it touched me in a special place, because as you can see, I also myself went into the Navy … to fight for this country.”

Continue on to American Military News to read the complete article.

Travis Mills: A Profile in True Courage

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Travis Mills seated on couch wearing two prosthetic legs smiling

By Kellie Speed

Eight years ago, Travis Mills’ life was forever changed when he became one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive his injuries as a quadruple amputee.

Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically wounded in action on April 10, 2012 by an IED on his third deployment in Afghanistan, but with a positive attitude, he refuses to let his injuries define him.

“In the beginning it was a little difficult not being able to look in the mirror for six months” he told us. “There were times when you wonder why this happened and how can you go back in time. After a while, you just realize that it’s never going to change so you might as well make the best of it.”

Mills said he had wonderful doctors, nurses, and medical staff as well as therapists (occupational, physical, driving rehab) that would get him back on his feet. His wife and his daughter were right there with him, literally every step of the way.

“I learned to walk with my daughter as she was learning how to walk,” he said. “Once you peel back the layers and realize this is the rest of your life, stop dwelling on it, get moving and reminisce about what you had, life gets a lot easier.”

Mills said the mental part was the toughest, and that he struggled with the ‘why?”

“Am I a bad person? Why didn’t I just die? Things like that go through your head,” he said. “I realized for the first five weeks of my injuries that I had to have someone feed me, have someone help me change my clothes, help me use the restroom, things that you wouldn’t think of. It’s like being an adult baby that can’t do anything for themselves. It has taught me patience.”

Today, the motivational speaker, actor, author and advocate for veterans and amputees whose motto “never give up; never quit” continues to inspire everyone he meets, while living “a pretty normal, hectic, crazy all-American dream life” with his wife, Kelsey, and two children.

Mills and his wife founded the Travis Mills Foundation to assist post 9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation. Through the foundation, they have created a Veterans Retreat where veterans and their families receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid vacation to Maine to participate in adaptive activities.

“The original vision in creating the foundation was just care packages overseas, because I would see a lot of guys who wouldn’t get care packages,” he said. “I thought, ‘let’s just send them peanut butter M&Ms, beef jerky that’s peppered, of course, because that’s the delicious one, and a few other items.’ So, we started with that idea.”

Then Mills, who could still go kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and snowboarding, would take these trips with his wife and enjoyed them so much, it sparked his next idea. “I thought how great it would be to bring people out and show them they can do things adaptively with their family?” he said. “It just kind of progressed to a small camp in the woods with little cabins to this huge facility. We don’t even say camp anymore because it’s more of a retreat at a huge estate (the former Elizabeth Arden Estate). We have been able to expand greatly.”

Mills’ advice for veterans who may be struggling with injuries suffered during combat? “I just tell people never be too strong to reach out for help, and understand there are ways to get over post-traumatic stress. And if they are physically injured, every day is a step in the right direction,” he said. “I am always so grateful and thankful when I think about what could have happened. I lost some really, really close friends of mine, and their families would give anything to have them back—their children, parents, spouses, their siblings and friends would give anything. So, when I think about it in that aspect, I know I was given a chance to live, move forward and make the most of every day.”

Recruit a Military Spouse: Gain a Force of Nature

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Caitlin Emmons pictured sitting on side of fountain with husband and two small children

By Caitlin Emmons

Honor. Courage. Commitment. When University of California, Irvine School of Law graduate Caitlin Emmons’ husband enlisted as a United States Marine, her family put these values above all others.

Military spouses do not attend boot camp, they do not put their lives on the line, and they do not have rank. They serve in a different capacity by placing their dreams on hold, by taking care of the home front, and by holding dear the same values that their spouses pledged their lives to uphold.

From being CEO of the home to being professionals across many industries, military spouses are an incredible powerhouse of strength across our nation. For those military spouses who are in professions requiring specialized licensing, they are faced with a never-ending patchwork of rules to overcome.

For those businesses and organizations that understand this potential, they unlock a determination to serve unlike any other when they recruit military spouses into their communities.

Military spouse and public interest attorney Caitlin Emmons decided to attend law school long before she became a military spouse.

When she married her Marine, she was challenged to deeply reflect on how she could realize her dream of being a loving wife and mother and still play her part in building a more just society as a lawyer. Given her USMC spouse’s military occupational specialty and it being their home of record, Caitlin hedged her bets and took the California Bar after graduating from UCI Law.

The bets did not pay off because afterwards, she and her husband were called to North Carolina. Once she accepted that she would not be a practicing attorney in California for the foreseeable future, she tackled the next major decision to create the strongest way forward.

Taking a bar exam is prohibitively expensive, especially when you are living on a military salary. With two children under two years old, Caitlin placed family first in true military spouse tradition. In Caitlin’s case, she sought alternatives that would keep her connected to the legal community but did not require a law license. While many employers see military spouses as a countdown clock, always a few years away from the next move, Caitlin eventually landed a position as a judicial assistant for the Honorable Charles Henry, who specifically hired military spouses.

Caitlin was incredibly grateful for the position since it was unique, especially for the area they were in.

After three years in North Carolina, Caitlin’s husband received orders back to California and she immediately connected with Veterans Legal Institute (VLI).

Caitlin found herself seeking to extend her family’s service by dedicating her life to public interest law directed at lifting up Veterans in need.

Veterans Legal Institute is a free law firm that is dedicated to low income and at-risk California Veterans. It serves close to 2,000 Veterans each year and during the COVID-19 pandemic, immediately adjusted its service to accommodate Veterans virtually. Further, in line with its mission, Veterans Legal Institute is always seeking to hire Veterans and military spouses.

With a small grant from the Starcare Foundation, Veterans Legal Institute was able to secure Caitlin a part-time position so that she could pursue her passion of serving Veterans.

When asked why she pursues public interest work at Veterans Legal Institute, Caitlin states: “As a military spouse, I have seen firsthand what service can do to a person. I can testify to the pride that service members feel. Working with Veterans, I can also confirm that so many are returning home to restart their lives, forever changed by their military experience. Our nation collectively owes them a debt. Military spouses are uniquely positioned to fill the needs faced by our Veterans because of our military cultural competence. The fight to restore the honor of their service is a righteous one, and it is one I am prepared to continue with honor, courage, and commitment.”

Are you seeking to stand with our Veterans of today and tomorrow? Become a champion for public interest law. Help eradicate barriers to housing, employment, education, and healthcare.

To learn more about Veterans Legal Institute, please visit www.vetslegal.org.

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    November 9, 2020
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    November 14, 2020
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    December 2, 2020 - December 4, 2020