Army Sergeant First Class Wade Mitcheltree Receives ELAN-Controlled Custom Smart Home from the Gary Sinise Foundation

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Gary Sinise Foundation

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, February 6, 2018 — During his second tour in Afghanistan in 2012, U.S. Army SFC Wade Mitcheltree was severely injured by an IED, resulting in the loss of both his legs and his right arm below the elbow. When Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) learned of Mitcheltree’s bravery, they awarded him a brand new specially adapted smart-home in Tigard, Oregon, that allows him to independently manage day-to-day tasks with ease.

Randy Reagan of Quadrant Systems, the integration firm that managed the project’ technology integration, knew that an ELAN Entertainment and Control System was the best smart home platform for Mitcheltree and his family. “ELAN is by far the most intuitive control system out there,” Reagan said. “It’s very simple for the homeowner to understand how to use it without having an expert show them. The icons are large, and the lighting controls are laid out on the touch panel the same way they are on the keypads on the wall. It’s perfect for Wade, his wife, and his two sons.”

Reagan built the home’s system around an ELAN gSC10 controller, with an ELAN g1 for secondary control and an ELAN S86A for audio distribution. Multiple ELAN touch panels and remotes were integrated throughout the two-story residence so that the Mitcheltree family can access the platform from any room of the house at any time. With just the tap on a screen, the family can manage the home’s audio, video, lighting, climate and security systems.

“Even if Wade is on the second floor, he can have full control over the whole house using any of the touch panels or his own iPad,” said Reagan. “If someone rings the doorbell, he can easily see and talk to them through the ELAN Intercom, and even unlock the door. We set up ‘away’ and ‘welcome’ scenes on the ELAN system, so that he can easily configure the entire home with just the touch of a button.”

For entertainment, Quadrant Systems also installed a robust multi-Gary Sinise Foundationroom audio system, which includes of SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and Sunfire subwoofers. The entire system is easily controlled through the ELAN platform, so each member of the family can stream any music they choose throughout the whole house or just in one room. This versatility, along with the crystal-clear audio from SpeakerCraft and Sunfire, makes their new home the perfect place to entertain friends and family.

Reagan and his team also installed an impressive security system that Mitcheltree can arm and manage through both a physical keypad and the ELAN platform. It includes a complete and comprehensive DSC system, and is also connected to the motorized locks on the exterior doors. “Through ELAN, Wade and his wife can easily secure their house from their bed or anywhere in the world using their iPads,” said Reagan. “This gives them an incredibly important peace-of-mind and an enhanced sense of security, which is especially important as they have children.”

Judith Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, emphasized how important the customized features of the home were to Mitcheltree and his family. “They’ve been through a long and emotional journey working toward Wade’s full recovery, and this home allows them to relax and worry less about daily tasks,” Otter said. “The ELAN system is especially important for Wade, as it allows him nearly complete independence, which otherwise may not have been possible. We’re grateful for the involvement of everyone behind the ELAN brand as we work to continue providing American heroes with a completely customized specially adapted smart home.”

For high-res images of the home, click here. To watch a video of the home dedication, click here.

About ELAN
ELAN, now part of 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. 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 more than 4 million connected systems and over 20 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, GoControl®, Linear®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC is a subsidiary of Melrose Industries PLC, a global investment company specializing in acquisition and performance improvement. With over 50 years of innovation, NSC is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

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From Farmer to Fortune, How One Medical Device Revolutionized An Industry

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iwalk-free

Each year, many entrepreneurs bring their products to market. Yet, research shows that the majority of them will not make it. Among those new products each year, there will be rare items that not only make it, but that completely revolutionize an industry. That’s exactly what happened with the iWALK2.0, a medical device that is essentially giving crutches and scooters a run for their money and longevity. In fact, the company has seen such success from the sales of the device that they expect to hit their 100,000th unit sold this year.

“Crutches have been around for 5,000 years, but the iWALK2.0 has already earned its place in the industry as the device of choice for those who have a lower leg injury,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc. “Not only have we won multiple awards for the device, but the feedback we’ve gotten and the sales statistics we’re experiencing all point to a robust future for the iWALK2.0.”

The story of the iWALK2.0 begins with a farmer who created the original version to give himself an easier way to be more mobile while recovering from a lower leg injury. Little did he know he was sitting on a billion dollar idea. It was when Hunter came along and saw the potential in the product that the idea was brought to fruition for the mass market. Hunter purchased half of the company, took the device concept to a whole new level, and introduced it to the world.

During Hunter’s first year, the company had a million dollars in sales, confirming what Hunter had suspected, which was that this was going to be a successful product launch. A serial entrepreneur, he was no stranger to the hard work and dedication that it took to help products find their place in the market. While the device continued to do well, it really saw a huge increase in interest and popularity when Harrison Ford was seen using it. Ford then used it again, for a different injury, which further boosted awareness. Since that time, additional celebrities and athletes have used it, including surfer Kelly Slater and hockey player Nick Bonino, among others.

Hunter knows that there is more that goes into a successful company than just having a great product. His secrets to entrepreneurial success include:

  • Have a clear vision before you start anything, and stick with it – no matter what.
  • Do your homework and lay a strong foundation before you make your first commitment.
  • If others say you can’t do it, prove them wrong.
  • Don’t give it 100%. Give it 150%… or more.
  • Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
  • Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.
  • Build a strong team.
  • Watch your finances – daily. Always know exactly where you are.
  • Be proficient at changing hats minute by minute. Advanced multi-tasking capabilities are essential.
  • Know when to quit. Here’s a hint – never.

“Creating a truly great product is really hard. Building a truly great company is even harder,” adds Hunter. “But if you are dedicated to your vision, work hard, and believe in what you are doing you will increase your chances of success. Believing in yourself is a large part of the equation. I’m thrilled with where the iWALK2.0 is and in its future.”

Sales have soared, the company has won awards for the design and concept of the device, and it is literally revolutionizing the industry. Increasingly, people are opting for the iWALK2.0, which resembles a high-tech pirate’s peg leg, and makes it easier for them to be mobile while they are recovering from a lower leg injury. The iWALK2.0 attaches just below the knee, attaching to and recruits the user’s leg, giving people the ability to stand and walk as they normally do, thus replacing the need for crutches or a scooter. With this route, they are hands-free, which allows them to do things they are used to doing, such as walking their dog, drinking their coffee, using their cellphone, or carrying groceries. In 2017, sales were up 50% over the prior year, and on Amazon the sales were up 154% over the prior year.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit iWALK2.0 video on You Tube.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc. It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at iwalk-free.com

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Lending A Helping “Paw”—Veterans gifted companion dogs through country star Brantley Gilbert

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Companion Pets

They say a dog is man’s best friend—and through the generosity of country music star Brantley Gilbert and several partners, eight deserving veterans are being paired with new canine companions.

“There is nothing like the loyalty, love and companionship of a dog,” said Gilbert. “For some people, a dog can connect unlike even a best friend for those who gave beyond the call of duty to our nation.”

Gilbert partnered with DAV (Disabled American Veterans) to identify veterans who would benefit from the addition of a four-legged friend in their lives, to be gifted as part of his 2018 U.S. tour. Each dog was professionally trained by Custom Canine Unlimited and paired with a veteran and his or her family.

“I love the idea of matching them up with dogs specially trained for Companion Petsthe task of getting their lives to a better place,” Gilbert said.

Marine veteran Jason Hassinger was paired with his dog, Charlie, backstage at Gilbert’s Albany, N.Y., concert in February.

“Brantley was amazingly humble, and you could tell his care for veterans is very genuine,” said Hassinger, who earned a Silver Star for gallantry in Afghanistan. “Charlie has become a friend and an incredible addition to our family.”

Crystal Keiser-Plunkett, a Marine veteran from Tifton, Ga., said the experience of receiving her canine companion, Athena, was life-changing for her and her family.

“Bringing Athena into our lives has brought joy, happiness and has even decreased my anxiety,” she said. “Athena ensures I don’t lie around all day. She wakes me with kisses in the morning, my kids and I spend the days playing with her, and she’s right beside me at night. I’m so glad someone like Brantley thinks about us veterans.”

“This partnership illustrates how DAV transforms the lives of veterans and their families,” said DAV National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster. “I’m very thankful Brantley partnered with us and used his platform to amplify our mission of service.”

Veteran Disability Compensation — Unraveling the details of the compensation you deserve

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Army man sitting

Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10 percent disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as a mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Benefit

The benefit amount is graduated according to the degree of the Veteran’s disability on a scale from 10 percent to 100 percent (in increments of 10 percent). Compensation may also be paid for disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses.

If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your combined disability is rated 30 percent or greater. Your compensation may be offset if you receive military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive payments. More information about disability compensation benefit amounts can be found on the Compensation Rates page.

Eligibility

  • Service in the Uniformed Services on active duty, or
  • Active duty for training, or
  • Inactive duty training, and
  • You were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, and
  • You are at least 10 percent disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated during active duty or active duty for training, or inactive duty training.

Note: If you were on inactive duty for training, the disability must have resulted from injury, heart attack, or stroke.

Evidence Required

  • Medical evidence of a current physical or mental disability, and
  • Evidence of a relationship between your disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship.

Note: Under certain circumstances, VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service, even if there is no specific evidence proving this in your particular claim. The cause of a disability is presumed for the following Veterans who have certain diseases.

Presumed Disability

  • Former prisoners of war
  • Veterans who have certain chronic or tropical diseases that become evident within a specific period of time after discharge from service
  • Veterans who were exposed to ionizing radiation, mustard gas, or Lewisite while in service
  • Veterans who were exposed to certain herbicides, such as by serving in Vietnam
  • Veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War

Example 1

During a weekend drill, an Army Reservist injures her knee while participating in a physical training class. She is eligible for compensation for residuals of the knee injury.

Example 2

An individual enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 10, 1988, and served for a period of 3 years. He was honorably discharged on June 9, 1991. During his active duty, he fell from a bunk and injured his back. Based on his active service, he is entitled to service-connected benefits for the residuals of his back injury.

How to Apply

For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure your claim is ready to be processed by VA, benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/apply.asp

Veteran advocates rally to bring more resources to Southern California veterans

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Kevin is the principal attorney at Snyder Law, PC an Irvine based firm focused on protecting families through estate planning, administration, and elder law. In addition, a unique portion of Kevin’s practice also involves veteran defense –  defending criminal justice-involved military and veterans across Southern California. Kevin earned his LL.M from the California Western School of Law; his JD from the University of Richmond School of Law, and completed his undergraduate studies at Boston College. Prior to law school, Kevin served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps where he met his wonderful wife, business partner, and mother of their tribe of three.


Deirdre is the President-Elect of the Orange County Bar Association and will be its President in 2019.

For more than 25 years, Deirdre has worked with many of the richly diverse elements of the legal community.  As a law student, Deirdre conducted 25-30 juvenile trials with the LA District Attorney’s office.  She started at Jones Day after graduation, and was then brought in as Vice President and Legal Counsel of American Savings Bank in Irvine, where she resolved legacy issues from the S&L crisis.  Afterward, Deirdre joined a vibrant trial group at Kindel & Anderson, and later practiced real estate litigation with Paul Hastings.  Deirdre then became a law school professor and today is Director of Career Services at Chapman University Dale Fowler School of Law and runs Chapman’s Professional Development Program.

Deirdre is the former Chair of the OCBA’s Judiciary Committee as well as Chair of the OCBA’s Law School Task Force.  She also has been an active member of the OCBA’s Diversity, Mommy Esq., and Pro Bono Committees.  Deirdre is the Treasurer of the OCBA Charitable Fund Board, and serves on the Public Law Center’s Dinner Committee.  Deirdre is active with the Orange County Coalition for Diversity in the Law, the Celtic Bar, ABTL, and the William Gray Legion Lex Inn of Court.  Deirdre is a Past President of the Orange County Women Lawyers Association.


Mischa Martineau is the Founder and President of Martineau Systems – a marketing and training company, since 2003, that empowers individuals and enterprises to articulate their unique value and execute strategy for sustainable growth and transformation.

Martineau Systems brands include, California Life Solutions and its flagship product I AM Who I Say I AM – Believe & Achieve™ a cognitive neuroscience-based curriculum that empowers -private and public sector – participants to believe in their greater capabilities, set and achieve lofty goals.

Martineau Systems partners with ON-STRATEGY® – a consulting firm operating in Latin America and North America – on a joint mission to empower mid to large market enterprises to increase their global competitiveness.

Ms. Martineau recently delivered a keynote for Women in Technology International and is a Business Advisor for Executive Next Practices – a C-Level advisory and thought leadership group headquartered at UCI Applied Innovation. It was featured by Forbes as one of the most innovative and relevant organizations for middle to large market leaders and nominated by the Orange County Business Journal as Innovators of the Year.

On the lighter-side, Mischa has performed stand-up comedy at the Brea Improv, California and appeared in independent films, television and stage. She is an extraordinary keynote speaker!


A long time supporter of various non-profits, Wendy and her significant other Mick (who is a US Marine) are delighted to be involved with Veterans Legal Institute.

Wendy Hooper is a residential real estate expert in Orange County. She began her career in 1984 and has seen pretty much everything since then. She loves helping her many clients make the smartest real estate investment decisions, addressing their uniquely individual needs. This includes aiding veterans to maximize their VA home buying benefits.

In her spare time you will likely find Wendy tossing balls to “Harley” her beloved Louisiana Catahoula at Huntington Dog Beach.

Personalized Smart Home Technology Restores Independence for Wounded U.S. Air Force Veteran

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Gary Sinise Foundation

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA,  — While stationed in Iraq in 2006, Brandon Byers, a Sr. Airman in the U.S. Air Force’s Security Forces, volunteered to take the position of rear gunner on the last truck of a team securing a bridge. During the mission, an IED exploded directly under the truck, doing great damage to Byers’ left leg, necessitating numerous surgeries and eventually amputation.

In recognition of his heroic actions and service to the United States, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) recently built and gifted the Byers family with a new smart home designed to specifically address his needs.

According to Pat Devlin, President of Dallas-based Smart Systems, which installed the home’s technology, “No one is more deserving of a life-simplifying ELAN smart home system than wounded soldiers. Small things, like being able to adjust the lights or heat from the couch without having to get up, to big things like security and remote control, can make a major difference in daily life and comfort. This was our first project working with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, and we were thrilled to be able to show our appreciation for a local veteran.”

Sr. Airman Brandon Byers’ new home is as smart as they come, with electronic door locks, outdoor surveillance cameras, a security system, multi-room and outdoor audio and video, motorized window shades, touch screen video intercoms, a video doorbell, enterprise-grade WiFi and cell phone signal boosters. That’s quite a list, but what makes it officially a “smart home” is the ELAN control system that ties all of those things together and makes them accessible from a single smartphone app that can be used anywhere in the world.

“The ELAN system is the brain,” Devlin said. “Through the ELAN app, or from any of the ELAN touch screens or handheld remotes in the home, each family member can adjust and monitor every one of the technologies installed. If Brandon wants to turn on the air conditioning and open the garage door before he and the family arrive home one day, he can do that from his smart phone. If Mrs. Byers wants to see video of who is at the door from her bedroom, she can do that. If the kids want to shut the blinds, turn up the heat, put on a movie and raise the volume, they can do all of that from a single app. That’s what ‘smart home’ means to us – the ability to control many systems from a single interface. That’s what makes it so useful, and why it was such a vital element in the Gary Sinise Foundation’s goal to provide the Byers family with the simplest living situation possible.”

Gary Sinise FoundationSmart Systems worked with top manufacturers to build out the home, which also includes three Sony HDTVs with one outdoors, 16 SpeakerCraft speakers with two outdoors, a surround sound system with a powerful in-wall Sunfire subwoofer, a Sonos streaming system and Panamax surge protection and battery backup that ensures smooth operation and protection of all the expensive equipment. Through the Panamax equipment’s BlueBOLT functionality, the integrators at Smart Systems can access the system remotely for maintenance and any required troubleshooting. This even goes for the outdoor TV located on the back patio.

Byers’ family can control the system through two ELAN gTP7 touch panels in the master bedroom and the great room, as well as with the couple’s iPad, mobile devices and three ELAN remotes. With electronic door locks, a connected garage door and a Doorbird video door bell, the Byers family has total access and dominion over entering the home. This means they could be away, and log in remotely to unlock the doors and let in a neighbor to water plants or check on the house.

Smart Systems also programmed special “Away” and “Welcome” modes that automatically adjust every home system with a single command. With one touch of the “Away’ button, the security system engages, all the doors lock, the garage door closes, the TVs, lights, and speakers turn off, and the HVAC goes to a pre-set level. Then when they return, the “Welcome” button brings every system back to the way it is normally set.

Gary Sinise FoundationJudith Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, added, “Each new home we build is an emotional project where we add another deserving member to the R.I.S.E. community. Sr. Airman Byers and his family have worked hard to regain normalcy for more than a decade, and we are proud to help them gain more independence and control of their environment both in and away from the home. We all know life isn’t easy, particularly for wounded veterans. Where we can make it a bit easier, we try.”

About ELAN

ELAN, now part of 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. To learn more, visit 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 more than 4 million connected systems and over 20 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, GoControl®, Linear®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC is a subsidiary of Melrose Industries PLC, a global investment company specializing in acquisition and performance improvement. With over 50 years of innovation, NSC is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.

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Toys R Us founder, World War II veteran, dies days after chain’s announced shutdown

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ToysRUS

Charles P. Lazarus, the World War II veteran who founded Toys R Us six decades ago and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana, died Thursday at age 94, a week after the chain announced it was going out of business.

Toys R Us confirmed Lazarus’ death in a statement.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus,” the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Lazarus, who stepped down as CEO of Toys R Us in 1994, transformed the toy industry with a business model that became one of the first retail category killers — big stores that are so devoted to one thing, and have such an impressive selection, that they drive smaller competitors out of business.

Continue on to the Chicago Tribune to read the complete article

Army Vet Helps Wounded Troops Find Way Back to True Selves

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army veteran coaching volleyball

At 6’2″, Army veteran Sarah Hughbanks has a bird’s-eye view of wounded warriors on the sitting volleyball court.

The assistant coach also has a clear view of what sitting volleyball and other adaptive sports can bring to the lives of wounded, ill and injured soldiers who are training for the 2018 Warrior Games.

“After injuries, some veterans may feel as if they’ve lost opportunities, but things like volleyball can be part of their journey to find their way back to their true self and help them realize they can conquer anything put in front of them,” Hughbanks said.

Her own connection and love of sports began at the age of 4. She learned the fundamentals of sports from her father while she was growing up in Idaho.

“My dad was a big baseball person, so when I came along he started teaching me how to throw a baseball. That basically helped me develop my hand-eye coordination early on,” Hughbanks said.

“I started out playing softball and, of course, basketball, because I was so tall. I made the volleyball team in high school, but I was terrible. I believe it was the height and eye coordination that helped secure my position,” she laughed while recalling her first experience with the sport.

A Welcome Challenge

Hughbanks has come a long way since those high school days. After being honorably discharged from the Army, she eventually found her way to coaching volleyball. “I believe I have a special talent for coaching volleyball. Understanding the game and finding new ways of teaching it is a welcome challenge.“

After a stint coaching at a high school, she was recruited to coach the Armed Forces Volleyball Team at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. While coaching at West Point, Hughbanks volunteered to help coach the Army’s sitting volleyball team there during the 2016 DoD Warrior Games. She enjoyed the experience and made an impression on Team Army sitting volleyball coach Linda Gomez.

“I loved Sarah’s energy and spirit,” Gomez said. “We talked about adaptive sports and her having been in the Army. She fits into my philosophy of working hard and staying humble. She takes direction very well and from a leadership standpoint to administrative things she just gets it. She’s a hard worker.

“This is a labor of love,” she continued, “and we have to remember who we’re serving and we’re always on the same page. She’s been a godsend, and I just think she’s a phenomenal person.”

Hughbanks will tell you that sitting volleyball is much harder than standing volleyball because the ball comes at you so much faster. Your hand-eye coordination has to be spot on, and that’s a challenge. But teaching players to overcome that challenge is very personal for Hughbanks.

“I’ve had battle buddies that have committed suicide,” she said. “I think volleyball, or other sports and activities, can help people connect to something and maybe help them not feel like they should make that decision. I can see it in their faces when they get it. When it all clicks and it comes together and they begin to understand the sport and that connection is made, this is definitely not just about sports or volleyball.”

Hughbanks said she takes particular pride in teaching a sport she loves to soldiers who have never played and seeing them fall in love with the game as she did.

“Knowing that many of the soldiers did not play the sport before they got injured and watching them find a love for it is incredible,” she added. “I love to see the light in their eyes. It’s gratifying to watch them play so hard and know you’ve played a part in this life-changing moment. It’s wonderful.”

Continue onto the USO to read the complete article.

True Car Announces New Partnership for DrivenToDrive Program with Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

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TrueCar-DAV

DrivenToDrive, a program created to help injured veterans get back behind the wheel, is seeking entries for one deserving veteran to win a vehicle

COLD SPRING, KY (March 15, 2018) —  TrueCar Inc. announced today it is partnering with Disabled American Veterans (DAV) as part of its DrivenToDrive program. DAV is a non-profit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive life-changing ways each year. Launched late last year, DrivenToDrive honors injured American veterans by helping them get back behind the wheel of a retrofitted vehicle.

In celebration of the new partnership with DAV, active members of the military, veterans or immediate family members can enter to win a vehicle through March 18, 2018 at truecar.com/driventodrive.

“DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence,” said Marc Burgess, CEO of DAV. “Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”

“Driving is an expression of freedom and independence,” said Lucas Donat, Chief Brand Officer at TrueCar. “Helping injured veterans, those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom, to drive again is a cause close to our heart. Last year we had such an incredible response that we are excited to open up the contest again, and we’re honored to be working with DAV.”

This marks the second year TrueCar is running it’s DrivenToDrive vehicle giveaway. Last year, TrueCar presented the keys to a brand-new cargo van to its first-ever winner.

For more information about DrivenToDrive and its mission please visit truecar.com/driventodrive.

About TrueCar

TrueCar, Inc. (NASDAQ: TRUE) is a digital automotive marketplace that provides comprehensive pricing transparency about what other people paid for their cars and enables consumers to engage with TrueCar Certified Dealers who are committed to providing a superior purchase experience. TrueCar operates its own branded site and its nationwide network of more than 15,000 Certified Dealers also powers car-buying programs for some of the largest U.S. membership and service organizations, including USAA, AARP, American Express, AAA and Sam’s Club. Over one half of all new car buyers engage with the TrueCar network during their purchasing process. TrueCar is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, with offices in San Francisco and Austin, Texas. For more information, go to truecar.com. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. TrueCar media line: +1-844-469-8442 (US toll-free)

About DAV

DAV is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans of all generations and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; linking veterans and their families to employment resources; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a nonprofit organization with more than 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

4 Financial Tips for Transitioning Veterans and Spouses

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Financial Tips

By Alecia D. Blair

Whether you have spent four or 24 years following your service member around the country and world, don’t forget that your spouse’s separation or retirement from the military is your military transition, too.

During a military transition, you will tackle challenges pertaining to your family’s financial readiness (spending plan and emergency savings), your career, and your own retirement savings. But don’t sweat it. As a military spouse and planner extraordinaire, you’ve been coming up with plans A, B, C, and D for years. You will take on this challenge just as you have any other in the military—with resilience and grace. You’ve got this, and we are here to help.

Check out four tips to help you pre-plan for your transition away from military life.

1 Revisit the family spending plan.

Does your family already have a spending plan (budget)? If so, that’s great. It’s time to adapt it. If you don’t have a spending plan, having a realistic, conservative one is essential to a smooth military transition.

Check out the Transition toolkit on saveandinvest.org for tips to compare your service member’s military to civilian compensation and benefits. If you need to start from scratch, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Check out SaveandInvest’s and USAA Education Foundation’s information on spending plans/worksheets.

When modifying your spending plan for a military transition, you will be losing tax breaks when you transition out of military life, so take this into account. If you need a second set of eyes on your spending plan (and financials in general), visit your installation’s financial readiness/education office and speak to a personal financial counselor for free.

Remember, communication is key. Make sure you and your service member are on the same page about the family financials.

2  Do you still need an emergency fund? Yes! Now more than ever.

Having a healthy emergency fund is always in style, especially if your family is moving beyond the military.

The benefits your service member receives (housing, health care, taxes, etc.) will change a lot in the civilian world, so having at least three to six months of emergency savings will help your family better handle financial surprises instead of taking on debt. As FINRA Investor Education Foundation plainly puts it, “Expect to pay more money out of pocket than you’re used to.”

3  Now’s your time. What do you want to do?

Chances are you’ve followed your service member around from duty station to duty station for a while. As a result of his or her service, your professional and/or education options have been limited. So now may be the time to ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”

Is now the right time to return to school? In many cases, a service member can transfer his or her GI Bill to a spouse or dependents, so look into this option. Proceed with caution before taking on debt to return to school. Plot your course carefully, and look for creative ways to reduce education expenses whenever possible.

Is a career or job change in your future? If so, dust off that résumé and polish it up. Many military installations offer free resume and job preparation services, so visit a location close to you.

4  Are you contributing toward your own retirement? You should be.

If you aren’t already contributing to your own retirement account, now is a great time to do this for many reasons:

  • Employment changes may allow you to save more toward retirement.
  • There are often tax advantages to saving toward retirement.
  • Your retirement savings account will help supplement your service member’s retirement, which means a higher standard of living in your golden years.
  • Plus, seeing your own retirement savings account increase is empowering.

Look for opportunities to invest in your retirement through your employer’s sponsored plan or through an individual retirement account (IRA), among other options. And if you’re already saving for retirement, can you now afford to save more?

Change is constant in the military. A military transition is a major change for you, too. This is a perfect opportunity for you, as a military spouse, to ask yourself what’s next and guide your family into this next chapter and toward a solid financial future.

About the Author
Alecia D. Blair is the Military Saves communications project manager, AFC® candidate, and FINRA Foundation fellow.

Source: militarysaves.org

Military Spouses on a Mission—Creating meaningful employment for those at home

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R.Riveter Handbag Owners

The company R.Riveter was born from a patriotic mission to combat the often invisible contributions American military spouses make in support of their service members.

Their sacrifice on center stage is one that takes both an economic and emotional toll on military families across the nation. As military families move on average, once every 2.9 years, it’s often difficult for them to find and keep meaningful employment. In fact, the unemployment rate among military spouses is 42 percent, despite the fact that 85 percent want or need to work.

In 2011, military spouses Cameron Cruse, pictured above right, and Lisa Bradley, pictured above left, decided to stop being part of the problem and create a solution. What started as a dream in a small attic with one sewing machine and a bit of canvas has turned into a national remote manufacturing network, helping to create income for more than 100 military families across the country.

“Military spouse unemployment is an incredibly important issue that must be addressed. Every military spouse can relate to our story. This transient life makes it so hard to find and hold onto meaningful employment, and that’s why we created R.Riveter. We knew we could create stability with a remote manufacturing network. Everyone told us our model was a terrible idea—but we made it work. And it’s thriving,” said Lisa Bradley, R.Riveter CEO and cofounder.

R.Riveter handbags are made from authentic military or military-inspired materials. From hand-stitched liners to hand-cut leather, each R.Riveter handbag is crafted with a thoughtful, genuine purpose. Military spouses across the country sew parts and pieces of each bag, and parts are sent to R.Riveter’s FabShop outside of Ft. Bragg for assembly. From evening clutches and functional crossbody bags to large totes appropriate for work or travel, R.Riveter crafts handbags for every occasion.

An American success story, Shark Tank winner, Inc. 500 nominee, and RRiveter-handbagshandbag company on a mission, R.Riveter is looking forward to continue to change the face of American manufacturing, helping military families along the way.

R.Riveter has been recognized for its success on a national level. After securing a deal of investment and partnership with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban in 2016, the company experienced year-over-year growth of 630 percent and $2.4 million in revenue. Most recently, Inc. ranked R.Riveter No. 298 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies, such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names, gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

Handbag-RRiveter“Making the Inc. 500 is an incredible milestone to celebrate. We’ve come so far since starting R.Riveter in 2011, but this is just the beginning. Our company has its sights set on a really big mission to combat military spouse unemployment, and we’ve only just begun,” said Cameron Cruse, R.Riveter cofounder.

  1. Riveter is a handbag company known nationwide for combating employment issues military spouses face while living a transient life. Cofounders Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley created a national remote manufacturing network to provide mobile, flexible income for spouses of America’s military members to earn regardless of where they live and how often they move. A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and a 2016 deal on ABC’s hit TV show, Shark Tank, launched R.Riveter into the national spotlight. The company now creates hundreds of handbags a week.

For more information, contact: R.Riveter, Lisa Zimmermann, (262) 227-4314