From Army Captain to Doctor

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By Amy Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris, 99th Regional Support Command

Ever since his days as a private in basic training, Army Capt. Eric Moton has never been one to rest on his laurels.

Moton said he always wanted to learn, as evidenced by the doctorate he earned in 2016, and the Army has been there to assist him throughout his quest for knowledge.

“In basic training, one of the things that a young sergeant pulled me aside and told me was, ‘Hey, education is big in the military,’” said Moton, who serves as chief of the finance division for the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command here. “I took to heart everything that young soldier told me and went ahead and enrolled in college when I got to my unit.”

Getting Commissioned

After several years as an active-duty chaplain assistant, Moton was selected for the Green to Gold officer scholarship program while deployed to Iraq. Upon redeployment, he was commissioned as an active-duty infantry officer.

“I ended up coming out of the Green to Gold active-duty program with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree,” he said.

After a year off, Moton registered for the Ph.D. program at Capella University. In 2016, Capt. Moton became Dr. Moton.

“I had two company commands and a deployment to Saudi Arabia [during the time with Capella] and was able to get my doctoral degree in business administration,” Moton said.

Moton’s achievements are even more remarkable when considering his early struggles with education.

More Education

“The Ph.D. is something I wanted to prove to myself. I tried to go to college prior to joining the military, but was unsuccessful,” he said. “I had to take a whole bunch of placement tests starting out, including developmental math, developmental science — I had to take pretty much every developmental course. That discouraged me from going to college at that time, and that’s why I joined the military.”

Moton has now joined a select group of Army Reserve soldiers who have pursued higher education. Of all doctorates in the Army, 75 percent reside in the Army Reserve. Of all master’s degrees in the U.S. Army, 50 percent reside in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Having such a highly educated force helps the Army Reserve remain capable, combat-ready and lethal.

While the Army has paid for much of Moton’s education, he is currently paying out-of-pocket to pursue another master’s degree, this time in information management.

“I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” said Moton, whose future roadmap includes a degree in legislative administration with an eye toward working in Congress.

Source: defense.gov

TFS Scholarships Launches Online Toolkit to Provide College Funding Resources

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Online MBA

SALT LAKE CITY— TFS Scholarships (TFS), the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding, has launched a free online toolkit to provide counselors, families and students with resources to help improve the college scholarship search process. The toolkit, available at tuitionfundingsources.com/resource-toolkit, provides downloadable resources and practical tips on how to find and apply for scholarships.

The launch comes in celebration with Financial Aid Awareness Month when many families are beginning the FAFSA process and researching financial aid options.

“We hope these resources help raise awareness around TFS and the 7 million college scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” said Richard Sorensen, president of TFS Scholarships. “Our goal is to help families discover alternative ways to offset the rising costs of higher education.”

The resource toolkit includes flyers, email templates, newsletter content, digital banners and table toppers which are designed to be shareable content that counselors, students and organizations can use to spread the word about how to find free money for college.

The newly revamped TFS website curates over 7 million scholarship opportunities from across the country – with the majority coming directly from colleges and universities—and matches them to students based on their personal profile, where they want to study, and stage of academic study. By tailoring the search criteria, TFS identifies scholarships that students are uniquely qualified for, thus lowering the application pool and increasing the chances of winning. By creating an online profile, students can find scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid. About 5,000 new scholarships are added to the database every month and appear in real time.

Thanks to exclusive financial support from Wells Fargo, the TFS website is completely ad-free, and no selling of data, making it a safe and trusted place to search.

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

 

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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From War Zones to College Life

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Stephen Walsh

Transition isn’t easy, but student veteran organizations and services can help

By Deborah Circelli

After serving 12 years as a U.S Army infantryman, Stephen Walsh had quite an adjustment when he started at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University last fall. The 30-year-old’s world went from fighting in war zones on two deployments in Iraq and another two in Afghanistan to attending classes with 18-year-olds who were the same age he was when he enlisted.

“The year I joined the Army is the year they were in kindergarten. It’s an odd feeling,” said Walsh, now 31, pictured above, and an aeronautical science major studying to become a commercial airline pilot.

Dan McCabe, 30, who served in the Army for almost seven years as a mechanic, had a similar adjustment period when he left military life in April 2013. He was deployed to Iraq and additional duty stations working on Humvees and other vehicles.

Dan McCabe
Dan McCabe EMBRY-RIDDLE/DARYL LABELLO

Following service, McCabe spent three years at various jobs before enrolling at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus in the Homeland Security degree program. Embry-Riddle is the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace with campuses around the world and online degree programs. When McCabe first started, he went to class, did his homework, and went home. It felt almost like a job, he said, until he joined, and soon revived, the Student Veterans Organization (SVO), where he met more and more students who had his same military experience.

Both McCabe and Walsh found camaraderie at Embry-Riddle’s

Veteran Student Services, which provides a host of assistance, from helping veterans apply for benefits to tutoring, counseling, and textbook lending. Now, McCabe, who is president of the Student Veterans Organization, and Walsh, the veteran representative on the Student Government Association, are helping other veterans adjust and spreading awareness of services on campus.

“When you get out of the military, it’s a different mindset and lifestyle,” McCabe said. “We always had direction, and we had a purpose. That can be difficult to find when you leave. We try to help with that.”

The veteran leaders not only believe veterans can benefit from being more involved in the college experience but also hope the general student population will interact and participate more in activities with veterans to help bridge the age gap.

“Anytime there’s a veteran event, I want to try to get everybody involved. Everybody is an Eagle first,” said Walsh, who is also now in the Army National Guard.

About the Author
Deborah Circelli is a communications specialist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Source: This article was excerpted from the original, which can be found at news.erau.edu/headlines/from-war-zones-to-college-life

 

Rutgers Graduate Student Pens Memoir of Marine Service in Afghanistan

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Mark A. Bodrog

By Tom McLaughlin

The words read like something out of a well-crafted action thriller. But make no mistake, for 1st Lt. Mark A. Bodrog, the images are still real, the memories still fresh.

“As if the gates of hell had opened up, my Marines and Afghan soldiers started to pick up their rates of fire, sending hundreds of machine gun rounds down range at the enemy compounds,” writes Bodrog in his gripping new memoir, Second Platoon: Call Sign Hades: A Memoir of the Marines of the Combined Action Company. “They opened up with a barrage of 40mm grenades from their grenade launchers and rocked even more compounds with their Light Anti-Tank Weapon rockets.”

A former first lieutenant and infantry officer in the U.S. Marines, the Rutgers–Camden alumnus and graduate student looks back at the critical role his unit played supporting Operation Enduring Freedom 10.1, in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in his new book published by iUniverse.

Bodrog’s platoon of Marines and sailors was one of two selected by his battalion to integrate fully with the Afghanistan National Army Soldiers, in order to create a combined action company (CAC) capable of conducting counterinsurgency operations throughout their area of operations and adjacent battle spaces. As he recalls, the two platoons of U.S. Marines lived in a camp side by side with two platoons of Afghan soldiers in a one-to-one ratio.

“We did everything together, including eating, shaving, sleeping, fighting, and even taking classes together,” recalls Bodrog. “We became one fighting force against the Taliban.”

Bodrog’s platoon would carry out a variety of missions, including combat engagements and rescue situations, during the formation of the CAC. He felt that it was his duty and obligation to document the accounts of his men and these missions in order for the general public – along with the families of these Marines – to understand what life was like for these young servicemen in Afghanistan.

As he recalls, much of what he saw reported in the media did not match the reality on the ground, and typically focused on negative aspects of the war, rather than the selfless acts of heroism that he saw on a daily basis.

“My Marines embodied the American dream; they were the hardworking guys that you never read about,” says Bodrog, a longtime resident of Mount Laurel who now resides in Camden. “As a platoon commander, it was my honor, duty, and privilege to write this memoir for my men. They are heroes in every aspect, and their stories should never be forgotten.”

Bodrog is quick to point out that the memoir not only immortalizes his men, but the bold few who, in the wake of 9/11, fought to preserve America and the American way of life, and asked for nothing in return.

MArk A. Bobrog-Afganistan

“The war in Afghanistan is considered to be America’s longest and least talked-about war,” shares Bodrog. “Less than one percent of America’s population answered our country’s call after 9/11 and even fewer made the life choice to become United States Marines.”

Bodrog adds that the memoir also has practical applications for the future of combined action companies. He explains that the counterinsurgency strategy was “designed to win the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people. Combined action programs had been earlier implemented by the Marines during the Vietnam War, which consisted of embedding Marines with local Vietnamese citizens. However, Bodrog says, his battalion took the tactic to the next level by creating a combined company of marines, sailors and Afghan soldiers. He maintains that the U.S. military can now benefit from the stories, training techniques and lessons learned during his battalion’s partnership with the Afghans.

“It was very frustrating, there was a lot of mistrust, and we went through a lot of friction, which I detail in the memoir,” he says. “It was a lot of trial and error, but we learned what worked and what didn’t. If we are ever in that counterinsurgency position again, it might help to save lives.”

Mark A. Bodrog
Mark A. Bodrog

Bodrog earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Rutgers–Camden in 2007. A year later, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. He has held the billets of platoon commander, weapons platoon commander, assistant operations officer, executive officer and company commander. He served two combat deployments to the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom 10.1 and 11.2.

His personal awards include a Letter of Appreciation, a Certificate of Commendation, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation, two Afghanistan Campaign Medals, and the National Defense Service Medal.

101+ Resource Guide for Veterans

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Resource Guide for Veterans

The ultimate resource guide assists vets with their transition to civilian life

America depends on its military veterans and their families to keep us safe at home and around the world. But their sacrifices come at a cost; every day in the United States, 21 veterans commit suicide and another 50,000 veterans are homeless.

These unacceptable statistics inspired the creation of a new resource for military families entitled 101+ Resources for Veterans: The Ultimate Resource Guide.

Published in July, the new guide is the work of Washington, D.C.-based author and radio personality Jennifer Hammond in association with A Hero Foundation, aherofoundation.org, a nonprofit group based in Beverly Hills, California, formed to assist military veterans as they transition to civilian life.

101+ Resources for Veterans, which took two years to research and write, brings together nonprofit, for-profit and government resources that are available to veterans in such areas as employment, education, entrepreneurship, wellness, transitioning home after service, community and housing, GI support and scholarships, financial services and social services.

Already an Amazon bestseller, the book represents a way of giving back for Hammond, who was adopted by a military family as a teenager. Jennifer HammondShe credits that family with encouraging her to finish high school and obtain a scholarship to complete college and graduate school.

Hammond’s goal was to create a book that is more user friendly than the cumbersome annual directory produced by the Department of Veteran Affairs, which lists many inactive websites and organizations whose voice mail boxes are full or do not return phone calls. Her book aims to feature the most effective organizations and will be updated to keep it current.

Jennifer Hammond
Jennifer Hammond

Jennifer Hammond is an author, real estate professional, SiriusXM radio talk show host and advocate for veterans. She has brought veterans issues to light while interviewing seven congressmen on Capitol Hill for the Veterans Legislative Forum, the Veterans Homelessness Forum, and the Military Family Housing Forum for radio shows at SiriusXM, where she hosts her own radio program on real estate. Hammond has been featured on ABC, Bravo and HGTV’s Flipping Boston. She is the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of career Army soldiers.

From Army Captain to Doctor

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Capt. Eric Moton

By Amy Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris, 99th Regional Support Command

Ever since his days as a private in basic training, Army Capt. Eric Moton has never been one to rest on his laurels.

Moton said he always wanted to learn, as evidenced by the doctorate he earned in 2016, and the Army has been there to assist him throughout his quest for knowledge.

“In basic training, one of the things that a young sergeant pulled me aside and told me was, ‘Hey, education is big in the military,’” said Moton, who serves as chief of the finance division for the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command here. “I took to heart everything that young soldier told me and went ahead and enrolled in college when I got to my unit.”

Pictured above: Army Capt. Eric Moton, right, chief of the Finance Division for the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, presents a retirement award to Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Moore during a ceremony at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Nov. 5, 2016. Moton earned his Ph.D. in business administration in 2016, joining a select group of Army Reserve soldiers who have pursued higher education. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris

Getting Commissioned

After several years as an active-duty chaplain assistant, Moton was selected for the Green to Gold officer scholarship program while deployed to Iraq. Upon redeployment, he was commissioned as an active-duty infantry officer.

“I ended up coming out of the Green to Gold active-duty program with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree,” he said.

After a year off, Moton registered for the Ph.D. program at Capella University. In 2016, Capt. Moton became Dr. Moton.

“I had two company commands and a deployment to Saudi Arabia [during the time with Capella] and was able to get my doctoral degree in business administration,” Moton said.

Moton’s achievements are even more remarkable when considering his early struggles with education.

More Education

“The Ph.D. is something I wanted to prove to myself. I tried to go to college prior to joining the military, but was unsuccessful,” he said. “I had to take a whole bunch of placement tests starting out, including developmental math, developmental science — I had to take pretty much every developmental course. That discouraged me from going to college at that time, and that’s why I joined the military.”

Moton has now joined a select group of Army Reserve soldiers who have pursued higher education. Of all doctorates in the Army, 75 percent reside in the Army Reserve. Of all master’s degrees in the U.S. Army, 50 percent reside in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Having such a highly educated force helps the Army Reserve remain capable, combat-ready and lethal.

While the Army has paid for much of Moton’s education, he is currently paying out-of-pocket to pursue another master’s degree, this time in information management.

“I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” said Moton, whose future roadmap includes a degree in legislative administration with an eye toward working in Congress.

Source: defense.gov

Success Program For Students, Veterans & Employees

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Fulfillment, happiness and success are what most people strive for in life. Too many never find it. But it is there for the taking by anyone who knows how. It begins with our mind-set: “As we think, so are we.” Our lives are determined and shaped by our thoughts. We all have brain-maps that we have built over our lives. Some of these brain pathways must change their direction to free us from habitual ways of thinking that are impeding us from achieving our dreams and potentials.

SOAR to Success teaches students and US veterans the right paths to take to avoid hardship and unhappiness. It is critical for us to take the time to think carefully about our futures, what we want to achieve, our legacy, and how to accomplish what we desire and dream of being and doing. —  Learn the steps to achieve your fullest capabilities. Learn to maximize your untapped potentials and productivity by training your thought processes to achieve success.

Employer Panels: We invite companies that have current open employment opportunities and internships to participate in the Soar to Success events we hold on high school and college campuses.  high schools, or colleges, or military bases. These companies share about their companies, their opportunities, give advice about being a sought after candidate, and then participate in a speed recruiting session with interested attendees.

Employee Development Program: We also bring this program to the attending companies for motivating their employees and teaching them the skills of behavioral, emotional, and financial literacy to make them happier, more productive hires. Their Human Resources departments have carte blanc access to our online education resources for continuing employee enhancement.

Soar to Success workshops are designed to help students, veterans, and employees learn about careers, internship, entrepreneurship, community service, to be productive citizens, and to prepare them for a purpose filled future. The US Army has given us access to their Master Resiliency Training program , and their online continuing education in this program. Our Soar to Success trainers are certified instructors of this Army program.

Our interactive method assesses your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes—and helps you to decide upon your ideal career path: identifying what will give you fulfillment and purpose is a key to living a satisfying life. Then we assist you in developing a working plan to achieve your ideal lifestyle, and to help others too. This program has received rave reviews from students, bases, and the businesses that participate.

We have added a couple of additional training modules:

The Value of Volunteering: Volunteer work is proven to be important for your both a person’s psychological and physical health. Volunteer work is also an important part of your resume. A history of volunteering demonstrates your commitment to the community and a willingness to work for the betterment of others. It is personally rewarding; and, it makes you more sought after by employers. — Many businesses have their own volunteer program, or support local programs. Ask them. – It feels Great to helps others to feel Great too!

Entrepreneurship: America produces more new businesses than anyother country. People from all over the world come here to do just that. We are the Land of Opportunity. But successful business ownership is not for everyone. We teach students and veterans the importance of creating an additional streams of income in addition to what they make as an employee. There are also many social benefits in being an employer that impact a community, as well as the personal satisfaction of being the source of financial support for your employees and their families.

Everyone has or can develop talents, abilities, skills, interests, and expertise that are of value to others. Starting a business that utilizes your unique abilities is a great place to begin. We show you how to bring your ideas into the market and to be successful.

If you are interested in attending our events as an as a student, as an employer; or, if you are a campus that would like to schedule an event, please contact us:

Phone, Text or Write: 760-730-3734/ info@patriotichearts.org

Internationally Renowned Chef Lidia Bastianich Salutes the Veterans Who Now Cultivate the Land They Bravely Fought to Defend in a New Holiday TV Special

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Lidia-group-photo

NEW YORK (November 20, 2017) – Across America, combat veterans are quietly returning to the land, digging in, and creating new lives as farmers and caretakers. This holiday season, internationally-acclaimed chef, author and food ambassador Lidia Bastianich pays tribute to the military men and women who have sacrificed so much, and continue to give back to their country.

In LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes, an uplifting new television special co-produced with public media powerhouse WGBH, Lidia Bastianich journeys across the country—from just outside of Buffalo to rural farm areas of West Virginia to Kentucky and finally to the West Coast—to farm with and cook with veterans who have found a new way to help themselves and others on the homefront. She then pays homage to them by cooking them a Lidia-inspired meal in California, the breadbasket of America.

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes premieres on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

A life-long believer in the power of food as the tie that binds us together, Lidia celebrates food diplomacy and supports our troops in Homegrown Heroes, a film that shares personal stories of triumph, struggle and resilience from men and women in the Armed Forces who are making the transition from the military to a new life dedicated to farming.

For many veterans, re-entering civilian life and the workforce can be challenging due to physical limitations, emotional trauma or battle scars. Lidia visits veterans who are growing food, beekeeping, raising livestock, maple sugaring, and more. The types of farming may vary—rural farming, urban farming, micro farming, fish farming, orchard farming—but the outcomes are similar. Transitioning to this new life is therapeutic and helps them reconnect in meaningful ways with their communities.

“Food feeds our souls. It is the single great unifier across all cultures. The table offers a sanctuary and a place to come together for unity and understanding,” says Bastianich. “Returning home can be a tough adjustment for our military men and women, but LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes shows how dedicated veterans are finding food and farming to be a rewarding path back to purposeful civilian lives.”

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes culminates in a festive celebration with veteran farmers joining Lidia for a large family-style dinner at a picturesque vineyard in Woodside, CA, where Lidia prepares a meal of braised short ribs, stuffed tomatoes, mashed potatoes with green beans, stir-fried patty pan squash with peppers, and more. The dishes are inspired by her travels and made from ingredients gathered at a local farm.

To connect with veteran farmers across the land, LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA teamed up with Farmer Veteran Coalition, an organization that mobilizes veterans to feed America and transitions them from military service to farming.

The Featured Veterans

— Mark and Denise Beyers (East Aurora, NY) were high school sweethearts who fell in love, then joined the U.S. Marines together. Mark lost his right arm and leg in an IED explosion while deployed in Iraq. The couple has a 15-acre ranch near Buffalo where they farm maple trees for syrup, raise turkeys and chickens, and sell eggs and honey.

— Alvina Maynard (Richmond, KY), a US Air Force veteran and reservist, finds humor and healing in the herd of alpacas she raises for fiber, wool, and meat on her Kentucky ranch. She talks of the pleasures of farm life and the value of hard work and caring for living things.

— Edgar Hercila (Anaheim, CA), is a first-generation American and a U.S. Army Corporal who served in Iraq, where he was tasked with agricultural development and rebuilding. He continues to serve his country as an urban farmer and CEO of an organic company that utilizes hydroponic and aquaponics technologies–an entirely sustainable type of gardening. He has created a symbiotic aquaculture system for raising tilapia and growing basil.

— Nate Looney (Anaheim, CA) is a Sergeant in the National Guard who was on duty in New Orleans when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, and who later served in Iraq. He’s a fifth-generation farmer. Today, Nate is working closely with fellow veteran Corporal Hercila, growing microgreens through hydroponics and aquaponics, which uses water instead of soil to farm. He thinks food security is an important issue and believes veterans have the “never quit” attitude that all good farmers need to possess.

— Jon Darling (McClellanville, SC) a veteran U.S. Army Ranger, enlisted in the military after 9/11, and worked six deployments in four years to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After the military, he fought depression and even had a few run-ins with the law. Farming became the answer for him, providing him with purpose and helping to relieve his PTSD. He and his wife began by sheep farming and now raise hybrid hogs on their six-acre farm in South Carolina.

— Calvin Riggleman (Loom, WV), a US Marine veteran known to friends as “Bigg Rigg,” returned from Iraq’s front lines to work on his family’s 134 acres of land, which he grew up farming in the hills of West Virginia. He grows fruits and vegetables, manages a farm stand, travels to farmers’ markets, makes his own jams, jellies and sauces, and distills several kinds of local moonshine from the produce he grows.

— Kelly Carlisle (East Oakland, CA) became an urban farmer to give back to the poor, tough neighborhood where she grew up. Gardening taught her that growth—including growing your mind, your body, and your ideas–starts with a seed. After serving as an Operations Specialist in the US Navy and Navy Reserve, she founded a non-profit urban farm project to serve at-risk youth.

— Matt Smiley (Pescadero, CA) is a former paratrooper and disabled veteran who works on an eight-acre farm. As US Army Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the Farmer Veteran Coalition he trains other veterans to help them find meaningful careers in agriculture. He says farming feels similar to deployment because it requires being outdoors, incredible teamwork, and hard work, and it gives a sense of purpose.

Series Description
LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA
is a lively exploration of the rich diversity of cultures across the United States, and the vibrant ethnic and religious customs and traditions observed by various groups–in which food is a common denominator that connects all human beings. Previous programs focused on the different ways Americans celebrate weddings, holiday traditions, independence, and life’s milestones. For more program information, visit pbs.org/lidiacelebratesamerica. To view recipes featured in the series, go to PBS Food: pbs.org/food. Lidia Celebrates America series DVDs, Best of Lidia: Pastas DVD, Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine cookbook and more are available at shoppbs.org. Every purchase supports PBS.

For images and additional up-to-date information on this and other PBS programs, visit PBS Press Room at pbs.org/pressroom.

To download recipes, watch video previews, and see behind-the-scenes images and stories on featured veterans or obtain additional veterans’ resources, go to pbs.org/lidiacelebratesamerica.

PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Underwriter: Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Producers: WGBH Boston and Tavola Productions
Executive producers: Lidia Bastianich and Laurie Donnelly

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes is a production of WGBH Boston and Tavola Productions. Lidia Bastianich is host. Executive Producers are Lidia Bastianich and Laurie Donnelly.

Funding for LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA: Homegrown Heroes is provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About Lidia Bastianich
Lidia Bastianich is an Emmy award-winning public television host, a best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business. Her longtime series on public television include the current Lidia’s Kitchen, in addition to Lidia’s Italy, Lidia Celebrates America, Lidia’s Family Table and more. She is the chef and owner/co-owner of four acclaimed New York City restaurants – Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, as well as Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City. She is also founder and president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces high quality broadcast productions. Lidia also has a line of pastas and all natural sauces called LIDIA’S. Along with her son, Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali and Oscar Farinetti, the team opened Eataly, the international artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace with two locations in New York City, plus Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Lidia has authored, or co-authored with her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali, ten cookbooks including the new Lidia’s Celebrate Like An Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party.

About Tavola Productions
Founded by Lidia Bastianich, Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces award-winning broadcast productions of quality, including Lidia’s Kitchen, Lidia’s Family Table, Lidia’s Italy and Lidia’s Italy in America.

About WGBH
Public media producer WGBH is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest creator of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Pinkalicious & Peterrific and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia(TM), providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org

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New Changes to Veteran Education Benefits

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The President signed into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” which will bring significant changes to Veterans education benefits. The law is named after the American Legion national commander who wrote the original GI Bill language in 1944, and will allow more Veterans to use the GI Bill and give them more time to use it. Some of the changes will go into effect immediately, and some are written to go into effect shortly after.

Some new provisions that go into effect immediately include:

  • The 15-year time limitation for using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is eliminated for Veterans who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013, and qualifying dependents (Fry children who became eligible on or after January 1, 2013 and all Fry spouses).
  • Reservists who had eligibility under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) and lost it due to the program sunset provision will have that service credited toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
  • Certain work-study is permanently authorized; previously it had to be re-approved by Congress every few years.
  • The VetSuccess on Campus program will be available to students across the country
  • VA will help Veterans to more clearly identify schools that offer them priority enrollment

The majority of the changes enhance or expand education benefits for Veterans, Servicemembers, Families and Survivors. Consult your local Department of Veterans of Affairs office for further details.

Source: https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/forevergibill.asp

Marine, Mechanic, Nurse and Scholar—Laura Tolver receives Pat Tillman Foundation scholarship

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Laura Tolver

By Mike Sepanic

Edgewater Park resident Laura Tolver has been named a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. A student in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program at Rutgers University–Camden in New Jersey, she is one of only five nursing students, and only 61 students overall, to earn this highly competitive scholarship.

Additionally, Tolver is one of two students attending Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, to receive this award. No other New Jersey university or college received a Tillman Scholarship in 2017.

Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses through scholarship support covering direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books, and living expenses.

Tolver began her service in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011. She was named recruit training honor graduate, received meritorious masts, and was awarded Squadron Marine of the Quarter. Stationed in North Carolina, she was an aircraft mechanic on the MV-22 Osprey.

It was her family ties that led Tolver to pursue a career in nursing. Tillman ScholarsShe was honorably discharged from the USMC in order to care for her father, who had suffered an anoxic brain injury. “For the first few months, I spent virtually every minute of every day in the hospital, interacting with his doctors and nurses,” she recalls. “I saw the care that he was getting, and I really wanted to be part of that for someone else.”

Tolver also was a support for her mother, who suffered from congenital heart defects and renal disease. But it was her grandmother’s example that ultimately compelled her to enroll in the accelerated bachelor’s degree program at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.

“My grandmother earned her master’s in nursing at a time when African Americans couldn’t practice in most areas of the country,” she says. “Her persistence and passion paid it forward for me, and her struggle taught me the value of dedication.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Wilmington University, Tolver met with representatives from the Rutgers–Camden nursing school, who connected her with the campus Office of Veterans Affairs. From there, she received the support and encouragement needed to realize her dream of becoming a nurse.

“The veterans services office took care of me. They showed me benefits for vets that I didn’t even know existed, which made my Rutgers degree affordable and accessible,” says Tolver. “If it wasn’t for Fred Davis, the late Josh Piccoli, and the Rutgers–Camden veterans office, I would never have accessed this resource. I would not have been able to grow.”

She encourages student veterans who are transitioning into the world of academia to “really do your research and examine what it is you need out of your university or program.” She adds, “Be understanding of your experiences during service and how they will affect your transition. I knew what I needed and what would and would not work for my life, so be sure of that, too.”

Tolver was inducted into the Athenaeum and Sigma Theta Tau honor societies, and was a member of the Student Veterans Association and the National Student Nurses Association. She also worked with other nursing students by traveling to Haiti to help that country recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.

She says the key to her balancing a hectic school schedule is a simple, old-school planner: “I write every detail of my life in it, even calls and texts I need to return. I color code work, school and clinical schedules, and I cross things off as I complete them. There’s something so gratifying about putting a line through something you set out to do!”

In May, she received her bachelor of science in nursing and is currently is pursuing her doctor of nursing practice degree in adult gerontology. Moreover, Tolver recently launched her professional career as a trauma ICU nurse at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

“Life experience in any capacity is beneficial,” she says. “If you learned from a situation, consider it tuition.” She advises, “The most important thing in life is to always be self-aware. Be sure of who you are. Don’t allow your life experience to determine your perception of yourself or, inevitably, your purpose. Your life experience is very different from who you are as a person.”

Created to honor Tillman’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships to build a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following his death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.

Source: news.camden.rutgers.edu

Nursing alumna overcame hardship to pursue military nursing career

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At age 5, Bianca de Leon emigrated from the Philippines to start a new life with her family in the United States. Seventeen years later, she graduated from Penn State with a bachelor of science in nursing degree and embarked on a military nursing career.

Along the way, she encountered more than the average American’s share of hardships, which she overcame thanks to perseverance and a strong support system.

“My parents wanted us to grow up in the States because they knew we would have better opportunities here,” she remembered. “At first, it was just my dad, my two older siblings, and myself. We briefly moved in with my aunt and uncle, plus their four kids and my grandma. After that, we moved five more times before I graduated from high school. “

It wasn’t until she turned 13 that de Leon’s mother and younger brother were approved to join them in the United States. “My dad became a citizen in 2004 and petitioned for them to come here,” she said. “Up to then I had only been able to talk to them through a computer screen. It was surreal to be reunited with them after so many years.”

But life didn’t become easier. On her 15th birthday, de Leon applied for her first job. She worked through high school while taking Advanced Placement classes and participating in sports, scholastic clubs, and other extracurricular activities.

“Many times I would come home after a midnight shift at Sonic and see that everyone was already asleep and my mom had left me food on the table,” she said. “After eating I’d usually do my AP Calculus homework, but sometimes I was so tired I just couldn’t. Next morning I’d wake up tired, go to school tired, be unable to pay attention in class because I was tired, then go to work tired. At age 17 I thought this was all I’d ever feel.”

Though challenging, de Leon’s less-than-ideal circumstances helped solidify her life plans. “For one class, I mentored an elementary school student who had behavioral issues, maybe problems at home,” she said. “And I could see myself as that little kid. I was frustrated and angry at things I couldn’t change.”

She also spent part of high school working at a retirement home, where the nursing staff worked hard to take care of the many residents. “I realized I wanted a profession where I could interact with people and help make changes to improve their lives,” she said.

In addition, de Leon’s father had open-heart surgery at age 50. Hospitalized for weeks, he missed his son’s high school graduation. “It was so hard to see him that sick and I knew I wanted to be there for him when I was older,” she said.

Inspired by her older brother, de Leon decided to apply for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). “I became interested because they had nursing scholarships,” she said. “At the time I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to pursue a military career. I knew that I needed to go to nursing school and this was a way that I would be able to do it.” She received a Naval ROTC scholarship at Penn State and was accepted into the four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing.

Thanks in part to the financial support she received from ROTC and a Fran Soistman Trustee Scholarship through the College of Nursing, de Leon graduated in spring 2017 as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. By July, she had passed the exam to become licensed as a registered nurse (the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX) and set out for her first duty station at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in northern Virginia.

“I remember sitting in my moving truck just thinking, ‘Wow, this is it. I did it,'” she said. “This was a day I thought would never come.”

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