A new mission: retired Army veteran finds new way to serve her own

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Army veteran Becky Smith assisting veteran at the DAV

It seems the only thing retired about Army veteran Becky Smith is the word “retired.”

After a distinguished 20-year career in the Army, which included service as the Women in the Army Policy Officer at the Pentagon, Smith, and her husband, who is also a retired soldier, settled in the Clarksville, TN area. And while her email moniker might read, “retired2RV,” the reality is that the course of her days appear anything but. In fact, Smith is so busy assisting veterans through the charity DAV (Disabled American Veterans), that she and her husband sold their RV to a friend so it could actually be enjoyed for travel.

Smith, who was working in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks, now represents her fellow DAV members in her multi-state region. On a recent Friday afternoon in September, Smith assisted veterans at the DAV’s Mobile Service Office (MSO) stop in her newly adopted hometown. The assistance, which ensures justice for her fellow veterans, ensures they receive their benefits.

“The feeling of helping a fellow veteran is incredible,” said Smith, who recently assisted a homeless veteran through the claims process. “We were able to help him go from being homeless living on $100 a month to receiving close to $3,000 a month. These are benefits he earned and should receive. I was happy to help him.”

Smith has been a lifetime member of the DAV for 11 years.

DAV and Hankook Tire are hosting a series of MSO stops across the nation to assist veterans and educate them and their families on the benefits and services earned in service. This program extends DAV’s benefits assistance to veterans who might not be able to access it otherwise due to distance, transportation, health or other various reasons. Hankook continues its promise to help American veterans through mobility by doubling the number of Hankook-sponsored DAV MSO stops year-over-year with 12 MSO stops across the nation this year.

To learn more about Hankook Tire’s relationship with DAV, visit dav.org/hankook.

About Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook Tire America Corp. is a growing leader in the U.S. tire market, leveraging investments in technology, manufacturing and marketing to deliver high-quality, reliable products that are safer for consumers and the environment. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hankook America markets and distributes a complete line of high-performance and ultra-high-performance passenger tires, light truck and SUV tires as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States. Hankook Tire America is a subsidiary of Hankook Tire Co., Ltd., a Forbes Global 2000 company headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and led by President and CEO Hyun Bum Cho.

About DAV

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans 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; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit 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.

Blind veteran pushing new documentary, anthem to bring attention to disabled vets

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Marty Klein on guitar

WOODSTOCK, N.Y.–A blind veteran from Woodstock has ambitious plans for his new full-length feature film and original theme song that grew out of it.

During the month of November, Marty Klein  was on a mission to get radio stations across the nation to play his “Veterans’ Anthem” and present his 54-minute documentary, “Why Can’t We Serve,” which he wrote, produced and directed, to a wide audience. He intends to keep the momentum going and shine the spotlight on helping disabled veterans.

The song, recorded at Natural Studios in Saugerties, features Klein on lead vocals. He is backed by famous musicians like John Sebastian on harmonica; folk singer Amy Fradon on backup vocals; Eric Parker on percussion; Jim Barbaro on guitar; and Cathie Malach on keyboard. Klein said the folksy anthem is intentionally upbeat to instill hope among America’s veterans.

Klein, who lost his sight to a rare eye disease called bilateral anterior uveitis while serving in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1960s, said the anthem was inspired by his film “Why Can’t We Serve,” which draws attention to high veteran suicide rates. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans take their lives each day, amounting to about 8,000 deaths annually.

Klein said he could have been another statistic, particularly after his diagnosis, which included secondary glaucoma and minimal but progressive cataracts.

“Before that, I had 20-20 vision,” said the 70-year-old author, disability activist and yoga enthusiast, Marty in uniform shaking handswho was honorably discharged in 1970. “I had no idea that it would be the beginning of a total loss of vision.”

To make the film, Klein enlisted the talents of Hudson Valley photographer and videographer Mike Nelson as his cinematographer as well as other local experts and artists. He began working on the project in 2016 and raised funds to get it off the ground. The Kingston Veterans Association helped raise more than $8,000 for the project, according to Klein.

The movie, shot at various locations across the country, including California, North Carolina and New York, features interviews with veterans, policymakers and counselors. Among those interviewed are Bill Forte, the chairman of the Kingston Veterans Association, and Klein, who tells his story.

In 1967, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Air Force, mainly to appease his patriotic father. After basic training, he went to weather school in Champagne, Illinois, fulfilling a childhood dream of being a meteorologist.

He was about to be sent to Vietnam when he was stricken with the disease.

“I had my own Vietnam,” he said. “Losing my vision was no picnic. I went through seven years of hell, being totally lost and had to recreate who I was.”

In the years that followed, Klein moved around the country before landing in Woodstock, where he would become a longtime counselor at Family of Woodstock’s crisis intervention center. He has also authored three books, two screenplays and created a CD program called “Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” He also is the founder of a holistic learning center in Tallahassee, Florida, which operated for eight years.

Marty Klein anthem songKlein said his goals for the film and song are not for personal gain, but to improve the lives of wounded military personnel and disabled veterans.

“My premise was that when these soldiers go to combat and come back wounded, there is no place for them in the military, so I decided to expose this with this film,” he said. “They get discharged and are given a disability check and that’s that.

“Many want to keep serving, but now, they’re floundering and don’t know what to do. The military unintentionally is pushing away a large number of people who would make it stronger and more diverse.”

Klein hopes that in some small way, the film will be a catalyst for change, but he said it will likely be an uphill battle.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all businesses and corporations hire people with disabilities,” he said. “This applies to most government agencies as well. The only exception is the United States military.”

Right now, Klein is pushing to get his song played at as many radio stations as he can and hoping to get his documentary screened at prominent venues, including next year’s GI Film Festival.

For the link to the film, please go to whycantweserve.com.

To listen to the song, A Veteran’s Anthem, download it here.

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Supports Paralyzed Veterans of America on Veteran’s Day

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Brad Keselowski presents check to Bill Lawson

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13, 2018) — Earlier this year, NASCAR driver and 2018 Richtopia Top 100 Philanthropist, Brad Keselowski, announced his Checkered Flag Foundation would support Paralyzed Veterans of America’s employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment).

Team Penske partners’ Alliance Truck Parts, Snap-On and Würth have also joined these efforts, and on Friday, Keselowski presented a check for $25,000 to Bill Lawson, former president of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Started in 2007, the PAVE program provides career assistance and vocational support to transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers across the country. Through the PAVE program, clients receive high-touch engagement as they look for meaningful employment. PAVE staff work with members of the veteran community to provide one-on-one support with resume development, sharpen interviewing and networking skills, and build a strong LinkedIn profile. PAVE operates through eight locations nationwide and in 2018, PAVE staff has placed 319 individuals with meaningful employment opportunities.

“Supporting America’s heroes is something that is very important to me, so I’m glad the Checkered Flag Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America partnered earlier this year,” said Keselowski. “I’m incredibly thankful that some of my Team Penske partners joined myself and the foundation in our efforts to support this program. This donation will allow Paralyzed Veterans of America the opportunity to continue to serve veterans by providing them, their families and caretakers with career support via the PAVE program. It’s very fitting that we were able to do this on such a special weekend, where we honor and remember all of the veterans who have served.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America not only supports disabled veterans, but all veterans. The organization advocates for quality health care and governmental benefits on behalf of veterans who have rightfully earned them. In addition, the organization is also a champion in fighting for job opportunities for veterans.

“We must be diligent in our efforts to combat unemployment and underemployment of veterans. This summer the veteran unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, an increase from a year ago. But, most concerning, is that nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed at a rate 15.6 percent higher than non-veteran job seekers,” said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When organizations such as Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation support our veterans’ employment program, together we are able to improve the lives of veterans, making them unstoppable in their quest for meaningful employment.”

For additional information about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s PAVE program, or to make a donation, visit pva.org.

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About Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation

Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation honors and assists those who have sacrificed greatly for our country. Since 2010, the foundation has supported more than 250 organizations and individuals in order to help veterans and first responders during their road to recovery. There are numerous ways for those interested to become involved. Visit CheckeredFlagFoundation.org for details.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Learn more at pva.org.

Paws of War Receives Donation, Aims to Help More Veterans with New Location

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Paws of War

Paws of War, an organization that helps veterans and first responders to obtain and train companion and service dogs, is moving to a new, larger location. The new location will help them provide their important services to more veterans and first responders.

One local construction company, NDA Construction, lead a community effort that made all the difference. The new Paws of War location will be at 127-6 Smithtown Blvd in Nesconset, New York. They are in the same shopping center, but will now be in a new location within it. The public is invited to attend a grand opening event on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 11:00 am. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.

“We have long outgrown our space and it was preventing us from helping more people,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “We are so grateful that NDA Construction and the community of sub contractors they brought on have stepped up to make it possible for us have a larger and more functional space. Their donation of time and resources has made it possible for us to help many more veterans and first responders. We couldn’t have made this move without their kind donation.”

The new space will be 3,400 square feet, which is double the size of the old location. It has been Paws of War Constructionbuilt out to provide more areas that will be used to help veterans during their training sessions. The group will now also be able to help those veterans and first responders who are wheelchair-bound or who use scooters. Their prior space was not sufficient for those in wheelchairs to properly participate in the training programs.

NDA Construction and its sister company NDA Kitchens have veterans working for them. The company is owned by Ed Rowland, who started it in 1992. Since that time, they have built a solid reputation for building and design. Through NDA Kitchens, they offer custom kitchen remodeling in the Long Island area.

“It would have been a real financial strain for Paws of War to try to move to a larger facility without receiving some assistance from a builder,” explained Rowland. “We believe in what they are doing and wanted to step up and help make it easier for them to continue doing it on a larger scale. We’re helping them, but then in turn they are helping people who have given a lot for all of us.”

Since the organization started in 2014, they have supported over 100 veterans with service dogs that were rescued from kill shelters and given the proper training. They have rescued 455 dogs from kill shelters and have graduated 102 dogs from the training program. Their mission is to help veterans and first responders who are in need of service dogs, whether for emotional issues, PTSD, depression, or for physical conditions. The new location will make it easier for them to help even more be able to get the assistance they need.

Paws of War Construction“I started in the program over a year ago,” says William Wurm, who is retired from the US Army and served in Iraq. “And now we are busting at the seams. This new space is going to be so ideal for all of us who make Paws of War a second home.”

Paws of War is an all-volunteer organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support their efforts, visit their site at: pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a 501c3 organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The Paws of War goal is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war such as PTSD. In turn each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.org.

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DAV and Hankook Tire support veterans with Mobile Service Office

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DAV-Hancock Tire

The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Hankook Tire recently hosted a Mobile Service Office stop at Gateway Tire & Service Center in Clarksville, TN to assist veterans and educate them and their families on the benefits and services earned in service.

This program extends DAV’s benefits assistance to veterans who might not be able to access it otherwise due to distance, transportation, health or other various reasons. Hankook continues its promise to help American veterans through mobility by doubling the number of Hankook-sponsored DAV MSO stops year-over-year with 12 MSO stops across the nation this year.

Photo : Brian Cowart, Chief Development Officer of the DAV with Larry Cantu, who served 20 years in the Army and is the Sr. Vice Commander of the local DAV chapter #45, and Jay Kim, Vice President of Corporate Strategy of Hankook Tire.

About DAV 

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans 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; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit 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.

Navy SEALs swim, bike, run 69.2 miles, raising $50,000 for military families

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Navy Seals

SEGUIN ISLAND, Maine – A group of servicemen and servicewomen, including Navy SEALs, recently battled ocean waves, a sixty-mile bike ride and a 10K run as part of Camp Sunshine’s 2018 Stone Coast Challenge.

The challenge, along with the Landing Party and Meet the SEALs Gala, raised more than $50,000 to allow military families with children with life-threatening illnesses to attend Camp Sunshine.

“All things being equal, military families inherently bear a larger burden than civilian families,” said event founder, Mike W. “So when a child of a military family is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness it has a comparatively acute impact and we’re trying to provide those families with some relief.”

The Stone Coast Challenge is designed to resemble the ups and downs that families with children with life-threatening illnesses face every day. The challenge began with a three-mile, open-ocean swim from Seguin Island to Popham Beach, a 60-mile bike ride from Popham Beach to Crescent Beach, and finished with a 10k run in Cape Elizabeth.  The general public gathered for the subsequent Landing Party at Fort Williams Park to see the participants finish the triathlon. That evening’s Meet the SEALs Gala was a formal reception with the participating SEALs and special dignitaries at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

Camp Sunshine is a free-of-charge, award-winning retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Navy Seals-Camp SunshineMaine that provides retreats year-round for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. At Camp, attending families join other families on similar journeys and experience the benefits of empathy and encouragement, rest and recovery, and hope and inspiration.

Since 2014, Navy SEALs and other servicemen have been competing in physically daunting tasks for Camp Sunshine. The SEALs have participated in a 13-mile swim across Sebago Lake (2014), a reverse triathlon that begin at the top of Mt. Washington (2015), a combination triathlon around Sebago Lake (2016), a 10-mile open ocean swim around California’s Coronado Island (2017), and most recently a 26.2 mile paddle around Coronado Island (2018).

For more information about the event or to make a donation, please visit sealsforsunshine.org.

About Camp Sunshine
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.

Camp Sunshine

Camp Sunshine’s program is offered year-round and has distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness. For more information, visit www.campsunshine.org.

The New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters Raises a Quarter of a Million Dollars for Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors

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Jared Allen with NYCDCC and Disabled Veteran

New York, NY–The New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC) recently hosted its annual charity golf tournament to sponsor Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors (JAH4WW).

The District Council successfully raised a quarter of a million dollars for JAH4WW, an organization that works to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for injured U.S. military veterans. The tournament was held at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey, and received a great turnout of supporters.

Over the past four years, the District Council has raised $675,000 for the organization, and union carpenters from across the country have volunteered to build homes for U.S. military veterans and their families to honor their service and sacrifice for our country.

This year, the work of JAH4WW hits close to home for the District Council. In addition to $250,000 NYCDCC golf dayraised by the District Council, $75,000 was donated by the District Council Charity Fund and the NYC District Council of Carpenters Benefits Funds Charity for one of the District Council’s own members, Arian Kohler.

Arian Kohler is a second-year apprentice with Local 157 and an Afghanistan War U.S. Marine veteran. While on a volunteer mission with HEART/911 this summer to rebuild homes devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, Kohler tragically lost his leg as the result of a collision with a vehicle while on foot. The incident nearly cost Kohler his life.

“Our partnership with Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors is a great source of pride for entire District Council. It is an incredible cause championed by an extraordinary organization. We’re humbled to play even a small part in paying back those servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for us, said Joseph Geiger, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters. “For us, this year’s sponsorship hits particularly close to home. We are proud of our brother, Arian Kohler, for his service to our country. He serves as an example to all of us, not only in the way he served his country as a Marine but also the way he’s continued that life of service to others as a civilian including volunteering in Puerto Rico.”

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About NYCDCC

The New York City District Council of Carpenters is a representative body comprised of nine individual Locals and 22,000 union members. The District Council functions as the voice for thousands of New York City’s most dedicated and skilled Carpenters, Millwrights, Dockbuilders, Marine Divers, Core Drillers, Timbermen, Concrete Carpenters, Cabinetmakers, Floorcoverers and Industrial Workers.

2018 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year overcomes invisible injuries to help fellow veterans, community

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DAV's Callie Rios-Disabled Veteran of the Year

Transforming adversity into a life of service, “Callie brings heart. And brings kindness to the chapter. She helps bring unity, helps bring some of the glue of the organization together.”

By Charity Edgar

When Callie Rios joined the military, she took an oath to defend her country and was prepared to face any enemy on behalf of the nation.

But she never expected to be attacked by a fellow soldier.

“I joined the military because I was a single parent, and I was looking for better job opportunities, a better life for my child,” explained Rios of her decision to enlist at age 18. “I followed in my family’s footsteps and became the first female in my family to join the military.”

Rios’ first duty station was in South Korea, and she thrived in the Army. But life was about to change drastically when she returned stateside.

“There was a turning point in my military career at Fort Knox when I was the victim of a sexual assault,” recalled Rios. “It really changed my perspective. I did not really find much support in my unit; I didn’t really find much support anywhere. It was a very lonely time for me.

“I came back out of it, and now I’m ready to help other women who were in the same situation as I was.” Rios is active in DAV Chapter 58 in Midland, Texas, serving as the junior vice commander.

“Callie brings heart. And brings kindness to the chapter,” said Chris Molsbee, the chapter’s senior vice commander. “[She] helps bring unity, helps bring some of the glue of the organization together.”

Molsbee emphasized that having Rios onboard has been critical for engaging other women veterans. He also commended her volunteer efforts.

“As the junior vice commander of the chapter, she is an intricate part of all of the charity events that we do,” said Molsbee.

In 2017, the chapter raised the most funds nationwide—more than $40,000—during Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Night at the restaurant location in neighboring Odessa.

Rios is especially proud of her efforts to support fellow women veterans and military sexual trauma survivors. In 2017, Rios spearheaded a women veterans conference, Heroes in Heels, sponsored by the chapter. Incorporating mental health practitioners for former servicewomen with invisible wounds was an event priority.

“During our last year’s conference we had clinicians here that could talk to first responders, that could talk to veterans and kind of give them some insight on where they can get help and how they can get help,” explained Rios, who previously served as a deputy sheriff, patrolman and public safety officer in her civilian career.

“They also got to see some of us female veterans out there just rocking it, making sure everybody is taken care of, working toward a better future for all of our veterans,” she added. “It shows them there’s good things, there’s still good people, there’s still good things in life to be had.”

Rios understands firsthand how difficult it can be to overcome injuries that are invisible to everyone Callie Rios-Disabled Veteran of the Yearelse. She channels the trauma she sustained in the Army into supporting fellow veterans. This personal experience is what drives her commitment to ensuring others don’t hesitate to seek out mental health assistance.

Rios also invests a lot of time at Midland College. Previously a student veteran, Rios now holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, so she understands the unique challenges former service members face on campus.

“She reaches out to people. She doesn’t sit back and wait for them to call her,” said Kay Schipper, an Air Force veteran and the VA coordinator for Midland College. “She’s always been there when I’ve called her when I’ve had a need, or a student [veteran]’s having a need.” Navy veteran Daniel Ortega agreed.

“Any program that DAV can touch to help the veterans lives improve, she’s all over it. It doesn’t take anything but a phone call to get her attention and to get her involved in that veteran’s life,” said Ortega, a graduate turned employee at the college.

Rios’ dedication to giving back extends beyond serving her fellow veterans. She also supports her community as a volunteer in the Texas State Guard, a military force that supports humanitarian missions throughout the state by augmenting the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Rios found herself missing the sense of belonging she had found in the military.

“I was looking for something to help me transition to civilian life, and the Texas State Guard gave me a home,” she said.

“[Staff] Sgt. Rios has almost nine years in the Texas State Guard, which speaks to her volunteerism,” said Col. Jeremy Franklin, who commands the 39th Regiment. “Sgt. Rios actually deployed in response to Hurricane Harvey. She worked in an American Red Cross shelter operation. She also served in a pod, which is where we dispense supplies to civilians impacted by the disaster.”

There is another group of people who benefit from Rios’ dedication to giving back: her kids. “I think volunteering sets an example for them,” said Rios. “They see me do it, they want to do it, and it gives them more exposure to other people, and it also teaches them values.”

“I am proud to honor Callie for her commitment to veterans, her family, local community, Texas and the nation,” said DAV National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster. “Her resilience as a survivor of military sexual trauma and commitment to supporting men and women battling invisible injuries undoubtedly provides inspiration to our fellow injured veterans and their families. Her humble spirit and positive attitude are living testaments to DAV’s mission of empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.”

“I volunteer and I give back so much because I love people,” Rios stated. “If they can find a piece of my story that connects with them and helps them in any kind of way, it’s worth it for me.”

 

Hankook Tire Hosts DAV Honorees at 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard

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DAV MLB Attendees at baseball park

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Master Sergeant Jeff Johnson and Captain Jonathan Moak have at least two things in common: First, they’re avid baseball fans. Second – and more importantly – they serve in the United States military.

Photo Left to right: Master Sergeant Jeff Johnson, Deonne Johnson, Captain Jonathan Moak.

Hankook Tire America Corp., the Official Tire of Major League Baseball, thanked Johnson and Moak for their service by hosting them as honored guests at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday, July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The rapidly growing global tire company welcomed Moak, Johnson and Johnson’s wife, Deonne, as part of its relationship with DAV [Disabled American Veterans], which selected the honorees. Hankook also invited its special guests to spend time in its suite, where they spoke with company leadership and met Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.

“The game was fantastic,” said Johnson, a resident of La Plata, Maryland who has served as an Aircraft Ordinance Specialist and Flight Chief in the United States Air National Guard. “Having the opportunity to see the best players up close like this is, of course, wonderful.”

Moak, a Captain in the United States Army Reserve from Alexandria, Virginia, agreed.

“The experience was incredible, and visiting the suite hosted by Hankook Tire America Corp. leadership was a very special time,” Moak said.

Johnson’s 20-year Air Force career includes three tours in Iraq and stints in Turkey, Curacao and at bases across the United States. Moak deployed as an Infantry Officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and recently transitioned to the Individual Ready Reserve after 13 years of service. Both are DAV members who ardently believe in the organization’s mission.

“DAV provides the connection for veterans to the benefits earned through service to country,” said Moak. “DAV helps vets transition to civilian life and gives the resources and tools necessary to do so.”

“My experience with [DAV] as I am transitioning to retirement has been exceptional,” Johnson said. “They provide highly knowledgeable professionals, free of charge, to help separating military members get all required information squared away and confirm we can access the benefits and services we’ve earned.”

The ticket giveaway is one of many ways Hankook Tire America Corp. is serving DAV in 2018. The company is partnering with tire dealers to host 12 mobile service stops, gave $175,000 to the organization and will sponsor a new seven-passenger DAV Transportation Network vehicle that will drive Nashville-area veterans to their medical appointments.

“Hankook Tire was delighted to host these courageous guests at the 2018 MLB All-Star Game,” said Wes Boling, Public Relations Manager for Hankook Tire America Corp. “As we enter our fourth year of partnership with DAV, we are honored to have an opportunity to serve those who have served us.”

To learn more about Hankook Tire’s relationship with DAV, visit www.dav.org/hankook.

About Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook Tire America Corp. is a growing leader in the U.S. tire market, leveraging investments in technology, manufacturing and marketing to deliver high-quality, reliable products that are safer for consumers and the environment. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hankook America markets and distributes a complete line of high-performance and ultra-high-performance passenger tires, light truck and SUV tires as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States. Hankook Tire America is a subsidiary of Hankook Tire Co., Ltd., a Forbes Global 2000 company headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and led by President and CEO Hyun Bum Cho.

About DAV

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans 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; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit 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.

ELAN Helps to Build a Personalized Smart Home for Wounded U.S. Veteran Through the Gary Sinise Foundation

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ELAN Smart Home

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, July 3, 2018 — After serving two tours in Iraq, U.S. Army SFC Jared Bullock trained for Special Forces and received a Green Beret in October 2013. Just a month later, on deployment in Afghanistan, an IED explosion on a routine patrol forever altered his life, leaving him without his right arm and leg.

After more than thirty surgeries, Bullock was recognized by the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) to receive a smart home designed and built specifically to address his needs.

When U.S. Army SFC Bullock describes that fateful day in November of 2013, he refers to it as “an incident,” according to David Young, Owner & President of integration firm The Sound Room. That is Bullock’s personality: unapologetically upbeat, always looking forward, doing his best not to dwell on the past. Speaking with the Gary Sinise Foundation® about the incident, Bullock shared, “I knew that my life wasn’t over, and this was just another challenge. Challenges have always motivated me to push harder in life.”

Designing a modern home to fit the lifestyle of a wounded veteran involves technology that is customizable and extremely easy-to-use. To serve at the center of the smart home system, The Sound Room installed an ELAN® Control System and other Nortek Security & Control technologies that enable easy control of lighting, audio, video, window shades, a security system with cameras, motorized door locks, garage door control, two zones of climate control and a front door video intercom.

The user-intuitive ELAN control interface is available to U.S. Army SFC Bullock through the two ELAN touch panels in the master bedroom and great room, as well as on an iPad® and iPhone®. This way, he and his family can easily see who is at the front door, view security feeds, and see what equipment is currently on or off throughout the home. Young also personalized “home” and “away” settings – the “away” setting can be enabled from any connected device to automatically ensure that TVs and lights are turned off, security is activated, and the doors are closed and locked when the family leaves.

The designer and integrator worked together to build what is perhaps Bullock’s favorite area in theELAN Smart-Home home, the exercise room. Complete with a 43” 4K TV and a pair of SpeakerCraft® in-ceiling speakers, he is always hard at work keeping his body in top condition. His dedication to physical fitness and challenges is part of his identity, as evidenced by the 12-mile race he ran just 10 months after the IED incident. Since then he has competed in Spartan races, worked with child amputees, and been featured for his strength and resilience on Bodybuilding.com.

With a large amount of equipment involved – including two ELAN® touch-panels, 16 SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers, three Sony® 4K TVs, 16 Lutron® lighting dimmers, six 75” wide Lutron motorized window shades, home theater equipment and more – protecting the system is of paramount importance. The Sound Room relied on Panamax® VT4315-PRO power conditioners to ensure every component gets clean, consistent power for optimal operation, and a Panamax MB-1500 rack-mount battery backup to allow for safe operation and shutdown of all rack components in case of a power outage.

During the project, Young was impressed with his team’s willingness to donate their time and expertise to this project. “This project presented a few challenges, namely because it was 2.5 hours away from our home location,” he said. “But even considering that, as soon as I announced our involvement in the project, several team members volunteered to work for free in support of U.S. Army SFC Bullock. It was a proud moment, as it was when we finally handed him the iPad that serves as the keys and control surface for his home.”

The Sound Room also worked directly with other manufacturers to have additional items donated, including obtaining a free Luxul® networking system for the family. Toward the end of the project, a Verizon® cell phone signal booster was added to improve the mediocre cellular reception at the home.

U.S. Army SFC Bullock“The home for U.S. Army SFC Bullock was built to make his life at home as seamless as it could be with customized design,” concluded Judith Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation. “We’re so honored to be a part of his journey and to better personalize his home to his needs. Without the generosity of Nortek Security & Control and our other partners, this wouldn’t be possible.”

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 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 more than 4 million connected systems and over 25 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, technology integrators 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.

Other brand names and product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks, tradenames, service marks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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Free Mobile and Web Based App Assists Military Veterans and Advocates with Potential VA Benefits Claims

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The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) recently launched the first of its kind app for use by military veterans and their advocates, available for download through the NVLSP website, Apple App Store, or Google Play Store.

Named the NVLSP VA Benefit Identifier, the application helps veterans, with or without the assistance of a veteran’s service officer, determine specific VA benefits to which they are likely entitled.

Veteran Rob Concklin found the app helpful and commented on Facebook. “I just wanted to write and say thanks for the benefits app. I went thru it, made a claim for five service connected conditions, three were granted immediately. I probably wouldn’t have even made the claim if it weren’t for your app.” A fourth condition was granted later for Concklin and while one condition was denied, Concklin was pleased he filed a claim.

The app directs users to a logic based questionnaire that assists in verifying whether a veteran should file a claim for service-connected disability benefits or nonservice-connected disability pension. The survey addresses all possible disabilities covered by VA regulations.

Created in both English and Spanish, the app functions as a comprehensive logic tree, generating additional questions from previously supplied answers. To protect privacy, no data or personally identifiable information is retained. Once the questionnaire is completed, results can be emailed or printed and used as a reference when filing claims for VA benefits.

“We’re hoping to maximize the benefit of this app for veterans by offering it as a free service, without any cost for downloading and utilizing,” said Bart Stichman, co-founder and executive director of NVLSP. “We want to provide a supplementary means for veterans to decide what their best options are in filing a claim for disability benefits.”

NVLSP’s VA Benefit Identifier app does not assist with claims for a higher rating for disabilities the VA has already connected to military service; claims previously filed with the VA; or claims for disabilities resulting from VA health care, VA vocational rehabilitation or participation in a VA Compensated Work Therapy program.

In completing the Identifier questionnaire, veterans should have documents available about their military service (DD Form 214), information about medical conditions and any prior VA decisions or related communications.

Upon completing  the survey, veterans are advised to schedule an appointment with a veteran’s advocate chosen from a list of Veterans Service Organizations furnished in the app. Veteran’s advocates are regularly available to assist with applications for VA disability benefits, free of charge.

A key highlight of the NVLSP VA Benefit Identifier is its ability to appropriately recommend when veterans should file for specific conditions, prompting them to submit an “intent to file” form with the VA, while further providing timelines and instruction on how to proceed with a formal claim.

NVLSP’s app features an easy to navigate interface allowing veterans to interact with a support point person, and can be downloaded from the NVLSP website to any web-enabled smart device. NVLSP recently fixed some bugs in the app in May that had frustrated a handful of users, and the problems identified were corrected.

Download the NVLSP VA Benefit Identifier app on NVLSP’s website, from the Apple App Store, or from the Google Play Store.

About NVLSP
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVSLP offers training for attorneys and other advocates; connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits; publishes the nation’s definitive guide on veteran benefits; and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information go to www.nvlsp.org.