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!

Know the Game


What do a T-Rex, Rubber Ducky and a Penguin have in common? They are all new tokens that will be added to the classic board game Monopoly. Why is this relevant to your job search? If you are even remotely thinking about switching careers, you need to treat it like a game. And if you’re going to play the game, you need to know the rules, the pieces and your opponents.

The Rules

Hasbro has made things simpler when playing one of their classic board games. Each box comes with a set of rules that you can play with your family and friends. Let’s face it, most of us have never read the rules of how to “officially” play Monopoly, have we? We learned it from others who have played the game before and have only consulted the Official Guide when bankruptcy seemed inevitable. This creates tension and turmoil when your friends come over to play and they have been playing by a completely different set of rules. Did you know that Monopoly rules demand that when players land on a space, such as Park Place, but do not choose to purchase the property, an auction must take place? The idea is that a bidding war will prompt another player to buy the space, and so the game will speed up.

However, many players usually skip this stage in ignorance and restart play, meaning the Park Place property will be available until someone lands on it again – which could be hours later.

When relating to real life, this has a lot of cross over. You may be looking for your first civilian job after the military and you don’t know any of the rules. Imagine you’re a combat medic and you have been giving top notch medical care to your team on deployment. You get ready to transfer out of the military and find out that you are not “qualified” to treat others due to state or federal regulations. This happened to me and I quickly found a mentor to teach me the rules.

New Pieces

Hasbro fired up their PR machine and crowdsourced people for their thoughts. Over 4.3 million people voted to configure the eight tokens for the classic game. They replaced the boot, wheelbarrow and thimble. This was a great move by them to reach out to families who play their games and to have them involved in improving one of their signature games.

Sadly, our military didn’t get the same opportunity. Over the last eight years we saw such a reduction in our military that active duty members were sent “pink slips” while on deployment. We saw new recruits coming into the military with literally no experience, while more senior Non-Commissioned Officers were taken off the board.

It showed me that pieces (and people) can be replaced. It also showed me to be prepared and how to improve my chances of winning. I’ve learned to keep my resume and LinkedIn updated with projects, awards and references. When you’re looking to move your piece off the board, some of the best items to have are reference letters from trusted sources. These include your peers, those you’ve volunteered for and those in elected/appointed positions in the community.

I found that the more people I talked with, the more stories I learned and how I could relate to others. This led to networking and how to connect others to what they were looking for in life. My mentor taught me that my net worth is my network. He showed me how to surround myself with others who were on a similar path. There is just something about being on a TEAM and doesn’t it just make sense to pick your own star players?


My Opponents

My mom usually played the role of the banker when we played Monopoly and that allowed me to focus on strategy and perfecting my amazing dice-rolling abilities. That would be great if it were true but it allowed me to slack off and not pay attention to which player had more money and properties. I quickly found out that I was my worst opponent.
After losing too many times, I volunteered to be the banker and found out that I was giving away one of the main advantages of the game! Being the banker taught me to watch what people were spending, what they were buying and how quickly money and property changed hands in the game.

This is very critical in your transition too. If you took an assessment of where you are on the board and where you want to go – what would you have to DO in order to get there? Is there a skill that would help you get there quicker? If you use that skill to also help others, the word will quickly spread and others will be drawn to you. You’ll be a Center of Influence in short order and those are the people that get on the “short lists” to be hired. If you’re honest with yourself, there is probably something that you could do today that would help your chances in the near future. Pause the game and figure that out to increase your chances.

Here is a recap of what I learned:

• Get a mentor and find out what the rules of the game are so you can WIN!
• Network with other professionals and get the layout of the land.
• Become educated in strategy and learn how to leverage your strengths.
One last tip for all of you trying to land on the Free Parking space. It does not entitle the player to a cash reward. Let that sink in for a moment. Just remember, you need to have fun because at the end of the game, all of the pieces go back in the box.

- Tim Stroud

My Service Dog - Colton


If you’ve seen me in the great Houston area volunteering in the past month, you’ve most likely met my Service Dog. Don’t be fooled by my Standard Poodle’s stylish looks; Colton (Colt for short) has substance and personality too! His breed is one of the most intelligent and most obedient dogs to be found. This, combined with their curiosity and eagerness to please, makes them easy to train and dependable. These qualities made the breed popular as circus dogs when such things were more common, (sorry Barnum & Bailey) and today they’re valued for assistance work.

Poodles appreciate mental challenges and lots of physical activity, both of which often come with assistance work, and they have an innate love of retrieving. Colt was trained for two years and can easily pick up a dropped cell phone, find a remote or get a water out of the fridge. He is a medium sized dog and adaptable to different environments, allowing him to stay focused and alert at home and in all sorts of public situations.

Colt is a good representation of his breed. He doesn’t like being left alone for prolonged periods and thrives on interaction with humans. So, not only can disabled people benefit from the companionship of a standard poodle, but these dogs mutually benefit from a person relying heavily on them.

What IS a Service Dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Tasks can range from calming a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder to retrieving keys from a hook on the wall — but just don’t call them pets.

Allie Keaton from My Service Dog says NEVER call them pets or emotional dogs. She trains Service Dogs and says “They are an extension of the person who has the disability.” This also serves as a reason to ask before you pet one. It may be on the job.
Badges? We don’t need any stinkin’ badges!

There are no papers, documentation, ID, certification, or other required information of any kind for me to have Colt in public with me. Not only is there no documentation necessary, but it’s illegal for you to ask for any. If you’re a business owner and you’re not certain my partner is a Service Dog, then you may ONLY ask two questions: if my partner is a Service Dog, and what work my partner does for me. That’s all. You can’t ask for my private medical information, request “paperwork” or do anything except ask me those two questions.

Follow Colt on Twitter @WonderDogColt and watch us travel and educate people on the value of Service Dogs for humans. We can also visit YOUR company if you live in the greater Houston area. Contact me at and we’ll come visit!
- Tim Stroud

Member Spotlight - Jose Ramirez

jose1.pngGrowing up on the south side of Houston, Jose Ramirez’s path of enlisting in the Army in 2002 took him from Texas to Fort Bragg. As an E-4 Specialist, he loved his job and the camaraderie with fellow soldiers, but after 3 years, Jose knew it was time to venture outside the military and into the civilian world. While working at Best Buy, he was selling cameras to customers and training amateur photographers on the technical aspects when he won a camera in a sales contest. Little did the single father know this windfall would open the door to a therapy he couldn’t realize would change his life’s course. After dropping Jose Jr., now 12, at school, Jose would go to parks and take photos of animals and nature, and there his creative side was unleashed. Photography is his passion, and his stunning, moving photos are a testament to, as he says, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

But Jose’s service to his country didn’t end when he left the Army. Taking the advice of his VA doctor, Jose checked out Team Rubicon, figuring “why not.” He registered with TR, and the chance to serve alongside fellow veterans has altered his focus and helped to soothe the PTS he lives with every day. While Jose walks the walk when it comes to service, his most substantial gift has been to influence his son by his actions; Jose Jr. yearns to grow up faster so he, too, can join Team Rubicon in service to his country. Both father and son are part of the team that places flags on the graves at the Houston National Cemetery on Memorial Day, and they are there to retrieve them until the next holiday. Jose is an LSVA member and also part of the Mission Continues, where their current project is rallying behind a Vietnam veteran in a multi-phase effort to save, beautify, and maintain a terminal man’s home; to help restore his dignity and offer the camaraderie Jose himself found amongst his brothers in the Army.

One of Jose’s goals is to grow within the Team Rubicon organization and spread the word to fellow veterans about the healing powers of continued service, and he can certainly be found behind the camera’s lens, sharing his vision of the beauty all around. And Jose Jr. will be watching and learning from his father how to be a man.

Hit Jose up at; share stories and experiences, get and give some advice; maybe he’ll even take your picture.

Tanna Harris
LSVA Volunteer

Member Spotlight - Julian Perez

Julian hosts the LSVA Woodlands Bowling Eventjulian3.png

Julian Perez was stationed in Hawaii, living in paradise off-post, but in a military-only community near the North Shore of Oahu, home of Pipeline and The Eddie. A deployment to Afghanistan meant leaving his wife, Jennifer, 7 months pregnant with their first child and subsequently missing Isabella’s first ten months of life. But, Julian did not want to go back to war nor ever leave his family again. So, after 4 years as a Signal Intelligence Analyst, he began to plan for life after the Army, back home near Conroe, Texas.

julian1.pngOn leave for his brother’s wedding weekend, Julian made a simple yet pivotal choice to forego a day of golf with the other groomsmen to check out an LSVA Career Fair at a church in South Houston. As Julian says, it is uncomfortable to go to career fairs and he was dreading this one, but his brother, who served in the Texas National Guard, made the strong suggestion he do it anyway. And with only two months left of active duty before hitting terminal leave, he knew he had to get on it early, because he had no specific back-up plan. Waiting tables or applying at Home Depot or Lowe’s, while good and respectable jobs, were his back-plan, yet was not what Julian desired for himself to support his family or fulfill his own goals. He wanted to be a Project Manager, and that fateful choice to skip the frivolity with the guys turned into a meeting with a rep from GE Oil and Gas and an interview the very next day. From Hawaii, he kept in close contact with GE, and when he arrived back in the Lone Star State, there was a manufacturing job for him with GE Oil and Gas, which has since transitioned into his dream job: Project Manager.

Hard work and perseverance paid off for Julian. He has also become a Community Leader with LSVA, because he has experienced first-hand how integral the support-system of fellow veterans and volunteers can be in the transition and how having the support of and interaction with other veterans and their families have had a profoundly positive impact on his own young family. To quote Julian, “the LSVA’s social events work for those in need of help; like a beacon of assistance. It’s so important veterans take advantage.”

When Julian isn’t working or going to graduate school, you can find him, Jennifer, Isabella 6, Julian, Jr. 4, and Bagwell (yep!) 11 mos., cheering on their beloved Houston Astros. Or you can hit him up at to share stories, get advice, or just check in with a fellow veteran, husband, father, friend.

Tanna Harris
LSVA Volunteer

How I Beat Cancer


I was feeling sad and depressed and I wasn’t myself at all. Yes it’s a normal part of life and part of dealing with cancer, but that feeling crippled me. Every day I was feeling hopelessness and emptiness. I knew I needed to take a stance and that I couldn’t let cancer beat me; I needed to beat cancer. My kids, my parents, friends, and family were all watching, and I knew that. I realized my mood affects everyone. I wasn’t going to let it. I started to do different things in my daily activities; both work and life.

This is what went through my mind, and this is how I was able to beat cancer every day: First, in my head, I say and convince myself “I CAN, I WILL, I MUST”. I am a fighter, and I will not let my kids, family or friends see me feeling down. I pushed and turned that pain into greatness. It motivated me to push through and fight back. I would take a shower and wash it off; I did something about it. I didn’t sleep my life away and do nothing about it when I knew cancer could take my life. I didn’t let it! I knew it will only get worse. I was always thinking “they are watching”. They’re wondering, “how will he take stress? Will he sleep, cry, drink?” So I told myself “I CAN’T DO IT ANY MORE!!!!! SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!!!!! SOMETHING HAS TO GET BETTER!!!! I changed my lifestyle. I am a leader so I had to overcome and be the Leader I am!

I learned how my diet affected me as a result of side effect of having cancer. I had to learn the best way to change my diet and eat differently; to have a lesser impact on my body. Then I started doing what I love to do - EXERCISING !!! And I started to have better thoughts.

Every morning now, I am awake by at least 3 or 4 am. I find positive thoughts and things to read. A positive thought every day to start it off right. One positive thought is the first thing in the morning can change our whole day. I tell myself everyday “what is going to determine my quality of life?” No one is in my way but excuses!!!

I wanted to go to the gym to motivate myself, to get better in life, and to get stronger and help others. It was my way to get out and motivate others. I didn’t want to sleep and stay inside and let depression get in my way. You don’t have to lift weights, you can even walk; but get out and do something!! I used to think to myself “it’s too early in the morning”, but I have tricked my body into being an early bird. I used to wake up at 6:15, then after weeks I set my alarm clock back to 5:45 AM, and now I get up at 4:00 AM and in the gym by 4:30 AM or 4:45 AM. I didn’t say - It’s too early, It’s too late, or I am tired, I didn’t allow myself to think that. I made a sacrifice for the greater good. I AIM small and miss small. Change your mindset “I can Conquer Mountains”. No more missing work outs, but think only positive thoughts. When I miss a work out, my friends will say “he missed a work out, I am going to miss one as well”. Then it gets hard to start up again. When you’re working out, don’t skip the last set.... keep going!

Think positive thoughts during your meditation. And most of all, get a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep will cause fatigue and add to symptoms of depression. So be sure to get proper sleep. Take a shower or a relaxing bath; develop a calming bedtime routine. Improve the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. Spend time with positive and supportive, loving people. Remember that it is only a storm, and it will pass.

I told myself, my kids, and family that I will see who I inspire. I will not go in the gym and leave the same person. Empower yourself and think in a way you have never thought before. Behave in a way you have never behaved. Have passion; I listened like I have never listened before. I started to work out like I have never worked out before, and I wanted to be a better person; better than I was yesterday. I changed that person.

Spend time with your family, and give it your all. You only live once, so you have one shot; make it your best. Win the war between you and yourself. Remember like I do, you have the choice on how you spend every second of your day. Have faith in your dreams and it will become real. Put forth your best effort to live the rest of your life to the best of your ability. It is not the success that makes you, it is the character that defines you. For me, it started with the extra 5:00 AM workouts, helping others so they don’t feel what I felt. Work hard when no one is looking. Put forth the best of your ability every single time.

I don’t give up and I will not give up. Don’t let obstacles get in the way, always think positive...I WILL NOT QUIT. If you don’t stay hungry for greatness, your fire will burn out. Make sure your next move is your best move. I always remember there are so many people that are talented and never accomplish anything. The body has limitations but it all starts with your mind. I get mentally ready so I can get physically prepared. Always keep trying and aim to stay motivated. Everyone has a gift; it’s your job to figure out what your gift is. And you decide if you will act on it every time - DON’T QUIT. Take ownership and responsibilities, and set high expectations . Always look for ways to improve. Reach out when you need help; someone is always there.

The most powerful tool in your body and in your life is your mind. That’s where the enemy fights you- in your mind. The devil doesn’t need to tie you up for you to be bound. He will just tie you up in your head with stress, with worry, and with low self-esteem. Decide what to focus on. Decide what you were going to do each day. Get strong and focus! Then just wait and see what happens!!! I was determined on what I do. I didn’t focus on “why me”? Is my life over? I focused on coming back and on the fight!! I was determined in my decision. Fight it and OVERCOME!!! To overcome you have to kill the noise. When others say you can’t do it, silence them and use that as motivation to push through. Believe!!! If you believe and have faith like I did, everyone else will believe with you. They will start saying “he inspired me...I will fight like he did.”

You are where you are because of who you are!!! Fight!!! If you want to get somewhere, change something, change your routine, make a better you! Take your life to another level. Free yourself from BITTER!!! Free yourself from the past. Free yourself and stop being a victim of the past and REMEMBER what is IMPORTANT!! You, Your family, your friends and loved ones.

Carlis Miller
LSVA Community Leader

PTSD Breakthroughs

An LSVA member shares her story: New study tests an unusual approach to treating symptoms of PTSD.


My Name Is Patricia Aquino. I’m 37 years old, and I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress and Major Depressive Disorder.

Does that sound like an admission of guilt? Or, do you imagine me standing in a room surrounded by a roomful of people, while I proclaim my addiction? I have a mental disorder brought on by my combat experiences in Afghanistan. I’ve spent many a sleepless night, walking through my house, pacing the floor, checking doors and windows to make sure they are locked and waking each time a car drives by the house. Other times, when I do get a few moments of sleep, it’s a nightmare that wakes me; one that has replayed in my mind over and over again.

It was during one of my many sleepless nights, as I sat up watching TV, that I came across a segment on the show “The Doctors.” The hosts were discussing a treatment known as a “Stellate Ganglion block (SGV).” It involved injecting patients in the neck to block the nerve responsible for alerting the body of impending danger. The sympathetic ganglia (the nerve) is responsible for firing messages throughout the body in response to stress. The result is an endless list of symptoms that are all too familiar to those who suffer from the disorder; hyper-arousal, accelerated heart beat, startle response, etc.

The doctors introduced Dr. Eugene Lipov, an anesthesiologist who has been practicing medicine and performing the procedure for years. Dr. Lipov thought that the SGV would be an effective treatment to help those suffering from trauma. Dr. Lipov talked about the many patients he had helped and how his treatment is more effective than that currently provided by any other treatment facility or organization. According to Dr. Lipov and his researchers, an SGV has a success rate of 70%, which is a far higher percentage than the numbers currently reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is approximately 30%.

Regardless, I didn’t care about numbers; I wanted a cure. Unfortunately for me, Dr. Lipov practices medicine in Chicago. If I wanted him to perform the procedure, I would have to submit paperwork, wait for a response, and then have it approved by my insurance. I didn’t want or have time to wait. At this point, I have suffered the effects of this disorder for years, and it has wreaked havoc on me, my marriage, and my family. So the very next day, I got on my computer and started doing research. It didn’t take too long before I found a doctor willing to do the procedure. I met with him a couple days later, he performed a health review, and together we decided that the procedure would be done the following week.Patricia2.png

I won’t bore you with details of a long weekend and the anticipation that gripped me daily as I awaited this “miracle cure,” so I’ll get right to it. I went in for my procedure on a Tuesday morning, was brought into a preoperative room, put on a gown, had IV inserted, and they explained all the details of the procedure and risks. I signed my paperwork, giving the doctor permission to perform the procedure, and minutes later I was in an operating room. The procedure itself is not invasive or painful, but it must be done under general anesthesia and in sterile conditions. With the use of an X-ray machine, the needle is guided into place near the targeted nerve and the medication is injected. All of this takes less than 15 minutes.

One of the things touted about an SGV is the immediate relief of systems and visible effects. To be honest, I didn’t know if it worked; I was cautious, but optimistic. Over the next few days, the results of the procedure were obvious; it had worked. The constant feelings of arousal and vigilance that had lingered for years all of the sudden had lifted away, not completely, but enough that I didn’t feel like I was being crushed by the weight of my memories.

If you are thinking about getting an SGV done to help you reduce your symptoms of PTSD, there are a few things you must know. One, it doesn’t work for everyone: doctors don’t know why and more research has to be done to understand how it works. Two, sometimes the first procedure doesn’t work at all , but even if it does, you will probably have to undergo the procedure a few more times in order for it to have a lasting effect. In case you’re wondering, I felt the effects of the first procedure wear off within a couple of days. I had a second procedure performed with minimal results. I will probably have another procedure done soon.

Patricia Aquino
LSVA Community Leader

Letter from the Director

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I’m very excited about what we’ve accomplished within the past year, and where we’re going on our mission to building the community of Lone Star Veterans. We are seeing three times more members regularly attending our events in 2017 than we did in 2016. Currently, one in 12 post 9/11 veterans in Houston are LSVA members, and we’re adding 30-50 new members each month. We’ve successfully launched new regional events in Clear Lake and The Woodlands reaching members in the communities where they live and work.

We have committed to a strategic expansion focused on Affinity Groups. LSVA exists due to the shared experience of military service, but we are all more than just that. We are professionals, mothers, fathers, fans, nerds, jocks and friends. The other affinities we share, compounded with our military service, allows us to build deeper relationships, faster.

We continue to rely on our fantastic Volunteers and Community Leaders to bring these new events and programming to our members. They allow us to streamline our operations and build a scalable model that we plan to expand at the beginning of 2019. Throughout the rest of 2017 & 2018, we’ll continue to define, refine and document our processes to create the scale for statewide expansion. In 2018, we’ll be fundraising and surveying other markets for our first expansion and hire in that area to lead our programming. It’s an exciting time to be a part of our community, we hope to see you out at an upcoming event soon.


Kevin Doffing
Executive Director