2017 Year in Review


We're excited to share an update and results from our programs in 2017.

Third Quarter Calendar

LSVA would like to challenge you to come out to an event and bring a friend.  Our mission is to build the Veteran Community - we need you to do that! Come on Out!

Download 2017 3rd Quarter Calendar Here!

Sponsor Our Newsletter

We are looking for a couple good sponsors to help us print our Newsletter. We would like to take it to events with us and educate others on what we do at LSVA. If you would like to advertise to Veterans and help us with our mission, please contact Connie at connie.gray@lonestarveterans.org.

Rates for Sponsoring (Quarterly - 4 Ads):

Full Page Ad           $1000.00
Half Page Ad          $500.00
Quarter Page Ad     $250.00

Did You Know?

Ever been to Jones Hall for a concert or seen The Nutcracker at Christmastime there? Its namesake, Jesse Jones, while not a native Texan, arrived in the Lone Star State at age 24 and left an imprint on Houston like no other citizen before or since. Instrumental in building the Houston Ship Channel, surrounding wharves and piers to create an international port, ownership of the Houston Chronicle, and the city’s largest radio stations, Jones sculpted Houston’s industry and skyline and enlivened and funded its art institutions, universities, and health care centers, not as a tycoon, but more of a grandfather to the city of Houston. He gave almost everything to Houston Endowment, a foundation instrumental in helping improve the lives of the people of greater Houston. Most notably, he went to Washington as an appointed official and provided the pragmatic leadership that salvaged capitalism during the Great Depression and militarized industry in time to fight and win World War II.

The Eddie, as mentioned on page 8, is an annual surf contest on the North Shore; very famous.  Eddie Aikau was a lifeguard and legendary Hawaiian surfer who saved over 500 lives.  He was lost paddling from a leaking canoe originally headed to Molokai, but he tried paddling on his surfboard, sans lifevest to make better time, to Lanai to get help for the rest of the boat crew.   Everyone was rescued, but Eddie was never found.  His heroics then and as a lifeguard spawned a phrase, Eddie Would Go, because he wouldn’t hesitate to venture into any kind of situation to help someone.

Did you know the only item inside the Gold Ball Atop a Flagpole is the bolt that attaches the ball to the rest of the pole? No razor blade, pistol, ammunition, matches, or pennies, but the myths and stories endure, fiercely defended.

Please submit your items - we would love to share them!

Name our Newsletter


This Newsletter is being written to provide and share information, tell our stories, entertain and aid the veteran community. We would like to have your input. This is just a beginning and we hope to improve each quarter. We would appreciate any assistance we can get.

With that said, we don’t know what to call it. What do you think? Submit your ideas and we will vote on them. I will compile a list and post to FaceBook. LSVA {what]? Send your submissions to connie.gray@lonestarveterans.org.
The winning submission will win a wooden flag made by Patty O’ Furniture, and a set of LSVA Logo Dog Tags.

Vettes for Vets


On a sunny morning in May, Sugarland’s Constellation Field was a lot louder than at any Skeeters game as nearly 100 Corvettes filled the parking lot, engines roaring. Gathered for the day were just as many veterans ready to be paired up with car owners from various Corvette clubs around the Houston area and beyond. After coffee and kolaches and a morning prayer, there was lot’s of ogling the sleek, shiny cars and plenty of camaraderie before pairing up for the drive to MSR Racetrack in Angleton. The show-stopping caravan rumbled along the 35 mile drive, drawing envious stares and raucous cheers. Upon arrival at the racetrack, each Corvette driver treated their veteran co-pilot to several spins around the snaky, curving track, while friends, family, and volunteers cheered everyone on from the observation decks high above. After swapping stories and experiences over finger-licking barbecue and cold iced tea, drivers and veterans saddled up for the spirited journey back to Constellation Field.

Members of the Corvette Owners Club of Houston, the Sam Houston Corvette Club, the NAACC - National African American Corvette Club, the San Jacinto Corvette Club, plus two Corvette owners from as far away as Oklahoma (!) donated their time and gleaming, thundering rides to give veterans a thrilling experience on a sunny spring day. Many of the Corvette owners were veterans themselves, which lent a feeling of a sort of reunion throughout the day. But the experience wasn’t only the thrill of the ride; the camaraderie and conversations, too, were a big part of the magical day. The biggest question from Corvette owners and veterans alike was, “when is the next one?” So, who knows what shined the brightest that day - chrome and colorful chariots or the smiles of everyone gathered on what would otherwise be just another Saturday.

- Tanna Harris

We Love Our Volunteers

18403150_10158687499955486_7903645778732846511_n.jpgOn behalf of LSVA, I would like to thank you for all the Volunteer support we have received in the past few months. Without your hard work and support there would be no US!

We will have one off Volunteer opportunities that we will come across. Please be on the lookout for email updates from me.




Without the Committee Volunteers, we could not accomplish near what we have been achieving. We always have room for anyone that would like to get involved with Events or Marketing and PR. We meet over lunch hours at Combined Arms and have a lot to do with the big Veteran’s month Picnic coming up!




IMG_5394.JPGCommittee Volunteers

I want to extend a special Thank You to our Committee Volunteers! We could not complete all that we are working on without the volunteers in our committees. We have a Marketing Committee, with a mission of establishing a consistent LSVA brand that creates a public awarementss of LSVA in a positive, quick, responding, informative way. We are working on this newsletter, a corporate video, social media, whatever we can improve in the LSVA Marketing/PR world.

We also have an Events Advisory Committee, with a mission of creating memorable events, including as many veterans and their families as possible, while raising funds to create more events. We are working on Operation Backpack, The Veteran’s Month Kick-off Picnic and Operation Lone Star Santa. We value the members of these committees, and have room for many more. We have a lot to do and appreciate all that want to help.

Volunteer Orientation

Come out and learn more about what is going on for veterans in Houston. We have some of the most innovation programming and organizations in the country serving and supporting the veteran community. This is a great chance to get some situational awareness on what is going on, and more importantly, how you can get involved.

It’s not just LSVA that needs volunteers; all non-profits need talented and passionate volunteers to fulfill our mission to build the veteran community and serve one another. This event is open to veterans of any era, family members, and civilians. The only requirement is that you are passionate about volunteering and supporting veterans.

Our desired end state is for the LSVA volunteer program to be a force multiplier for all organizations we work with and create a community of veteran leadership that is recognized statewide. Veterans are graduates of the greatest leadership training in the world’s greatest military; this is the first step in becoming servant leaders in your own community.


Volunteer Concessions

We have begun working with Levy Restaurants and participating in the Volunteer Concessions at the Toyota Center and BBVA Compass Stadium. Funds raised during these events are going towards building our Volunteer Recognition Program. Here are the next events that we plan to participate in:

• Saturday July 8th – Houston Dash (BBVA)
• Saturday July 15th – Houston Dash/Kendrick Lamar Concert (BBVA/Toyota)
• Saturday July 29th – Houston Dynamo (BBVA) Spouse’s Group fundraiser

If you are interested in Volunteering for this event you will need to be TABC and Food handling certified, as well as a background check. LSVA will cover the cost of the certifications.

Volunteer Tuesdays

We will also begin training for our Volunteer Tuesdays and Volunteer From Home opportunities by reaching out to our new and existing members. We need to keep all of our members informed of our resources. We could use your help.


From Boots to Elected Official

marquez.jpgWhen I decided to run for an elected office, I knew that it would be hard, and at times, I would have to step up my knowledge meter to a whole new level. I was elected as a Council Member for the City of Glen Rose on May 7, 2016, and for a whole year, I have dedicated myself to working hard and finding innovative ways to spark the volunteerism and ownership in the city. I am also trying to modernize the process of government and policy in a conservative manner.

I have put together a list of tips that a Military Veteran might need if the decision to run as an elected official is a go.

  1. Know why you are running and have a plan that includes objectives that are achievable.
  2. It is not a sprint, but a marathon. Don’t go guns a blazing, because you will be overcome with the just procedural information required to change policy and laws.
  3. When campaigning, know your audience and learn the lay of the land. People live in groups for a reason, most likely because of shared beliefs or culture.
  4. Be yourself, but a translated military veteran understands that less than about 8% percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives.
  5. Walking and talking matters, social media is good, but you need to get out and make contact. Ask yourself how many people actively on social media actually vote.
  6. Remember you will represent all people in your area, this means you will come in contact with people that don’t like your views. Listen to them and keep an open mind, they might have good ideas.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes and always make yourself comfortable before you sit down for meetings.
  8. Before any speaking event, have a warm up session with someone that knows you, It will help you calm down and be better prepared.
  9. Lastly, I did not highlight my military service, but it will always be a part of me. Introduce yourself and if a citizen brings it up, be prepared to share one story that connects you to your objectives as an elected official. This helps a lot.

I have not decided to run a second term, but thought I would pass some information that could help in the future for someone out there that decides to run for an elected office. See you out there.

- Robert Marquez Jr.

Finance Keys to Financial Success After Separation

images_(10).jpgFor most Americans, veterans and civilians alike, financial stewardship is a taboo topic. The colloquial phrase “money cannot buy happiness” carries a significant amount of weight. While the phrase is true, financial mismanagement does in fact carry significant problems, which can make happiness seem like a long forgotten dream. Why are Americans so terrible with money? The richest industrialized nation in the world carries more debt than any other, and has the least number of retirees that are prepared for retirement. How did this happen? The biggest issues with Americans and their money comes down to several factors. Financial disorganization, lack of education, misconceptions, and failed products and strategies are among the top culprits.

Transitioning Benefits & A Change in Philosophy

When leaving the military, many people do not understand how to transfer their benefits in preparation for future health issues or other life possibilities. During the transitioning process, benefit elections can be daunting and confusing, yet are of the utmost importance. In a system where we are rarely educated of our options, it is difficult to know which benefits we should keep, transfer, or supplement in anticipation of losing the full suite of benefits offered while in service.

Most veterans realize that while in active duty, they receive a $400,000 life insurance policy offered through the SGLI plan. During transition, many do not realize the importance and benefit of transferring their SGLI policy into a VGLI policy before the offer expires. Transitioning service members are given one year and 120 days to transfer to the VA’s version of the service members’ life insurance. The VA will offer a comparable amount without health testing if applied for within 240 days of separation. This is called guaranteed issue. The threat of not availing of this benefit can leave one uninsurable after service, and thus unable to receive additional policies in the future. The VGLI product is also guaranteed at the same rate as at issue date, which is based on your age at separation, without increases for the lifetime of the service member. This is a benefit which is hard to come by outside of whole life products, which grow cash values, often offer dividends, and can act as more of an investment vehicle than a simple life product.

images_(3).jpgOther key military offerings that merit transferring include TSP accounts and health care insurance. These are often products veterans can look to their employers to provide, but will sometimes require them going to outside investment strategists or brokerage firms. It is important to take care of these transfers, as being without them can create financial vulnerability. If an employer is willing to match a 401k investment, it can be worthwhile to use this tax-deferred option. However, if an employer does not offer a match, using a Roth IRA can make more sense for taxing purposes, as it is likely that future realized tax rates could be higher than current rates.

Healthcare coverage is also a very important proponent of financial stability. There are companies who cater to veterans and their families, and if an employer will not offer a healthcare plan with partial premium coverage, health brokers can be very beneficial.

Supplementing Financial Security

Some coverage types are not included within military benefits, but can be imperative in financial security. These include disability insurance, umbrella liability coverage, and supplemental or critical illness products. Working veterans’ largest asset is their ability to make money. If this asset is debilitated, liabilities increase. In short, people spend through their savings accounts or use credit cards, hindering themselves from creating strong balance sheets moving forward. They may grow past it, but without income protection, a vicious cycle is created when a new accident or critical illness occurs. Ensuring you have protection from these crises can preserve your overall financial stability.

Start Now - Break the Cycle

Alas, wavering financial stability and the inability to save for retirement are nothing new, and becoming increasingly problematic. With the increase in the average lifespan, inevitable extinction of pensions, and terribly poor savings habits, more Americans are stepping off, if not forced due to extenuating circumstances, into retirement with insufficient savings. More retirees are having to drastically cut their post-career lifestyle, while increasing their dependence on an underfunded social security program, in hopes that their savings will last. Unfortunately, this is often not enough. Many Baby Boomers are stepping off into retirement with only enough money to last them a decade or so. Further, with constant advancements in technology, our elders will have tremendous difficulty finding employment to cover their retirement funding gap and cover increased healthcare costs.

What is the Solution? START NOW! Today is the day to begin taking yourself seriously financially. It’s natural to want to live in the moment, especially after going through the trials and tribulations of being in the service. Though it is of utmost importance to find the joys in life, be weary of spending your wealth with reckless abandon. Stop getting in your own way of being successful. Whether it is fear, embarrassment, or procrastination, we are the largest hurdle to our own effective financial stewardship.

images_(8).jpgSteps to Financial Stewardship

Get Organized - Awareness and organization is of utmost importance. Considering the increased number of financial institutions, we regularly transact with, we run an increased risk of taking on unnecessary debt, overages, and late fees, slowing the growth of our savings. Stay cognizant of all the financial institutions you work with, have a full understanding of the costs & fees associated with them and build a strategy to grow your wealth.

Become a World-Class Saver - The wealthiest understand that it literally takes money to make money. As we save large pools of money, we become able to allow our dollars to grow over time. Increase your savings habits to eventually save 20% or more of your income. This may not happen overnight, but is possible with continuous awareness. Make a game of it; set goals, stay aware, and continue to adjust your savings strategies.

Have Proper Protection - Protect your health, assets and your ability to have an available fund to fall back on. If you are sick or hurt and don’t have health, disability, or other types of insurance, any savings you had attained will be spent down to deal with the situation. Financially stable people pool their risks. Regardless of the level at which you are needing coverage, keeping that risk pooled is always going to be important.

Build Cash Reserves - Building an opportunity/emergency fund is integral for financial freedom. Having 6-months of one’s income in liquid (accessible) savings vehicles, allows one to endure times of financial distress or avail of once-in-a- lifetime business opportunities.

Live Debt Free - Unlike the common belief, some debt is ok. If you can leverage your debt at a lower interest rate than what your savings can earn, it may be better to keep your own liquidity rather than giving away your personal assets. Carrying high interest debts, though will only damage your future financial prospects, and should be kept to a minimum. Paying these debts off should not come before personal emergency funds, though.

Get Professional Help - Emotional decision making is the number one cause of financial distress. It takes an outside perspective to have a full understanding of one’s finances. A qualified advisor who operates with integrity will have access to a full suite of savings vehicles to fit for your needs. They understand the importance of efficient cash flows, business structuring and tax strategies and can make professional recommendations, eliminating emotion from the equation.


- Allen Devers, Shawn Kuehn and Andrea Duhon



Do you want to become a confident public speaker and strong leader? If so, Toastmasters is the place for you. You’ll find a supportive learn-by-doing environment that allows you to achieve your goals at your own pace. If you’re a Veteran, family member or supporter in the greater Houston area, then we have a unique group for you. The Veterans’ Voice Toastmasters is comprised of those listed and geared toward helping you tell your story.

Not only will you become a better speaker, you’ll become a better listener and develop stronger leadership skills. Companies want to hire those who know how to communicate well and promote those who have mastered this skill. Our members are assigned Mentors that walk them through two different manuals; one for learning the roles and the other for speaking.

Texas-with-Flag-Inset.jpgYou’ll also learn how to think on your feet by participating in the Table Topics portion of the meetings. You’ll expand your network by meeting interesting and successful people in the Houston area. Some of the fields are Oil-Gas-Energy, Non-Profits, Marketing, Finance, Advertising, Teaching and Sales. If this sounds intriguing, you should join us on a Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm in the Combined Arms Conference Room on the 1st floor. Arrive 15 minutes or so before so you can meet some of the group and hear how Toastmasters has improved the lives of SO many Veterans!