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January, 2011:

SALK Day 30 – Combat PTSD

Today’s sponsor asked me to write about the current problem of soldiers not getting the support and services they need when they return from serving overseas with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Since I used to be a licensed professional counselor in Arizona, I have some thoughts on this topic.  Just to be clear, I have treated veterans in the past, I have no personal experience treating veterans with PTSD after returning from combat and this blog should not be viewed as mental health advice.

PTSD occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event that involved a threat of death or serious injury that results in intense fear, helplessness, or horror.  A person who has PTSD experiences recurring intrusive thoughts regarding the traumatic event such as flashbacks or nightmares.  They tend to be more detached from others, have a restricted range of emotions, have difficulties related to sleep, controlling their anger, and concentrating.

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PTSD is referred to as the invisible war wound.  A recent survey showed that nearly 1 in 5 soldiers returning from Iraq had symptoms of PTSD.  This is a striking increase from a 2004 a study showed that 1 in 8 returning soldiers had symptoms of PTSD.  Some believe that the problem is more serious than these statistics suggest and is being made worse because of the long tours of duty and occupation of Iraq.  The 2004 study showed that only half of the soldiers who had symptoms of PTSD were receiving treatment.  Some of the barriers to treatment were fears about how they would be perceived by their peers and that it would negatively impact their military careers.

Since 2001, approximately 2 million troops have been deployed to Iraq.  If 20% of them have or have had PTSD as a result of their combat service, that’s 400,000 people who would benefit from mental health services and nearly 200,000 who aren’t getting the services they need.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to treat.  Symptoms may not become apparent immediately after returning combat and it may take months or years treatment.  PTSD is a complex mental illness and isn’t something that a person can handle on their own, and often the love from family and friends isn’t enough.  When PTSD goes untreated, the person often has trouble with interpersonal relationships and may self-medicate their symptoms with drugs or alcohol.  In the last four years, there have been frightening  increases in the number of suicides in active and non-active duty soldiers.  It would not be surprised if this is related in part to untreated PTSD.

There are some wonderful online resources for soldiers that specifically address combat PTSD and the unique needs and experiences of soldiers and their loved ones.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Katrina Holland.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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SALK Day 29 – Jane Ross

Jane Ross is one of my favorite lawyers in Phoenix.  I admire her commitment to being herself and not conforming to the traditional lawyer mold.  After law school, she lasted exactly one week at a large law firm.  She quit on a Friday and by the following Monday, she had started her own firm.  She’s been in business for nearly eight years, and she’s never had a lack of work.

Jane gave up a lot when she left big law firm life.  She gave up the security of a steady job with benefits, bonuses, and people whose jobs it is to make coffee and photocopies, answer phones, and do research, for the freedom to select her own clientele and decide her own schedule.  She can work in her pajamas at home if she wants with her dog laying at her feet.  She never has to feel guilty or worry about her reputation if she takes the afternoon off to be with her daughter.  On the flip side, she lives in an eat-what-you-kill world where she is solely responsible for her paycheck.  In many ways it appears that she has the perfect professional life, once you get past the fear of being completely responsible for her own success.  I couldn’t imagine striking it out on my own right out of law school, but I’ve heard that it’s made a lot of people happy and that help is only a phone call away if they need it.

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Jane is a special breed of lawyers – the gay lawyer.  This is different from a lawyer who happens to be gay.  The lawyer who happens to be gay is someone who is a lawyer first and their sexual orientation is one of many aspects of their personality.  These are also lawyers who might be able to pass as straight.  Conversely, a gay lawyer is someone is undeniably gay and whose work is dedicated to the LGBT community.  They often are often found in boutique law firms or are solo practitioners and advertise in the gay press.  Their passion for LGBT rights and legal issues are intertwined with their identities.  These environments give gay lawyers the freedom to be themselves and focus on LGBT legal issues.  Gay lawyers and lawyers who are gay are both known for being fabulous and active in the LGBT community.   I’ve met some wonderful LGBT lawyers through the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) chapter of the local bar association.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Jane Ross.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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SALK Day 28 – Happy Birthday Charis!!

Happy Birthday Charis!!

Your Mom sponsored my website for today to wish you a very happy 18th birthday.  She’s incredibly proud of you for getting into Arizona State University, your desire to study genetics, and your devotion to theatre and loved ones.

I feel lucky to have had a small glimpse into your life.  You seem like a phenomenal person who has achieved much.  Another person who was diagnosed with lupus at age 12 would have let it slow her down.  According to your Mom, you’ve never let it be an insurmountable obstacle to your dreams.  Keep it up and best of luck for the future.

Rumor has it you’re celebrating adulthood by getting a tattoo.  Good choice!  I hope you get something that you love as much on your 18th birthday as on your 80th.  I hope whatever you have done does not get distorted due to pregnancy, gravity, or any other life event.

P.S. – Your Mom said that if you’d chosen to celebrate adulthood by going skydiving, that she would have gone with you.  That sounds to me like if you wanted to do it, that she’d be willing to pay for the both of you.  😉

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is K Royal.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 25: Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona Mardi Gras Gala

Today’s sponsor is my friend, Jana Knapp.  She asked me to promote the Mardi Gras Gala for the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona, coming up on March 5, 2011.  Jana became passionate about epilepsy awareness when her nephew was diagnosed with it when he was only nine months old.

There’s no cure for epilepsy.  Since it is a neurological problem, its effect on each person is unique.  Some people can manage it with drugs; others will grow out of it; and for others, it will be something they deal with every day of their lives.

There isn’t enough money to properly train EMTs, police officers, school nurses, and even doctors to properly treat a person after a silent seizure.  Children are often misdiagnosed with ADD and seizures are mistaken for strokes in the elderly.  Veterans do not have the necessary care for their traumatic brain injuries.

Until there is a cure, the best thing we can do is to be knowledgeable and compassionate towards people living with this illness.  The Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona has the programs to help accomplish this goal, but they need funding.

The Mardi Gras Gala on March 5th is the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona’s annual black-tie fundraiser.  It will be a delightful evening, held at The Venue Scottsdale.  The evening will feature national recording sensation Katrina Shoen Carlson, magicians, stilt walkers, gambling, and Cajun cuisine.

This year the Foundation will be crowning Colonel Joey Strickland, Director of the Arizona Department of Veteran Services as their King of Mardi Gras.  Colonel Strickland is being honored for his work to develop and implement the Foundation’s Operation Outreach program for veterans with traumatic brain injury.  These soldiers are at an increased risk of developing epilepsy.

The Foundation needs more silent auction items to make the night more magical, including gift certificates, gift baskets, or cash to purchase auction items.

If you want to attend the event, tickets are as followed:

  • Individual: $200
  • Private Table: $1000
  • Corporate Table: $2500

Even if you cannot attend, please consider making a donation to the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona so that they can continue to provide the necessary education on epilepsy and to promote compassion for those living with this condition.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Jana Knapp on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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Screwed by the ASU Tuition Classification System

One of the benefits of ASU Law School is that non-resident students have the option to be classified as a resident for tuition purposes after one year if they intend to stay in Arizona after graduation.  For one student, who will remain nameless, the system failed him.

Money
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To be considered a resident in the eyes of ASU, the student has to prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that they had been continuously physically present in the state for 12 months and intend to stay in Arizona indefinitely.  ASU assumes you’re only there to get an education.  A student can prove their intent to stay in Arizona with documents such as a tax return, driver’s license, car registration, bank account, insurance, voter registration, and proof of ownership of property in the state.

My friend got into other law schools that are better than ASU, but he picked ASU because of Arizona’s strong legal market and the school’s high career placement for its graduates.  He complied with the rule regarding residency and submitted his application to have his residency status changed.  Surprisingly, his application was denied.  The committee claimed one of the reasons for the denial was that his financial support came from all student sources.  This is completely inaccurate.  He had a full tuition scholarship, but he paid for his living expense out of his savings.  Basically he was denied in-state tuition because he was smart and was fiscally responsible.

He appealed the decision.  When a student appeals a residency decision, they have to appear before a 3-person panel and state their case.  The panel asks questions and then deliberates right in front of the student before rendering a decision.  Allegedly, my friend’s appeal was hijacked by one of the panel members from University Libraries.  According to my friend, she shared her assumptions about law students with her fellow panel members, such as law school applicants go to the best school they get into and that law school graduates can get jobs anywhere.  Apparently she wasn’t aware that passing the bar exam only allows you to practice law in one state, unless there is reciprocity.  The panel allegedly considered these assumptions about law students rather than the facts that my friend presented.

Now, my friend is wicked smart and a great guy in general.  He has a summer associate position lined up, and if all goes well, he could be offered a job for after graduation.  His statements to the panel regarding future employment were not unrealistic.

The worst thing the panel mentioned in their deliberation was his alleged lack of community connections.  Anyone who understands law school knows that students don’t have much time for a social life.    Furthermore, the panel said that he could have established intent if he had mentioned that he was a member of a church!  ASU is a public school and the panel never asked if he was member of a church.  The panel disregarded his connections with Teach for America, Junior Law, and Community Legal Services because he could have been involved in these organizations regardless of where he lived.  Isn’t the same true for a church?

So, despite my friend following the rules, he got screwed over by the system and there’s nothing he can do but pay the more expensive non-resident tuition, reapply for residency, and hope if it’s denied, that he has a panel that decides his case on the facts and not their assumptions.

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SALK Day 23 – Nancy Smith

Today’s sponsor is Nancy Smith, a licensed Loan Originator with Alliance Financial Resources in Glendale, Arizona.   Alliance Financial Resources is a conventional home loan lender with in-house processing, underwriting, and funding.  This guarantees that buyers can obtain loans quickly at great rates and close their escrows.  Smith is an FHA and VA approved home loan lender.

Smith works with both sides of real estate transactions: people who are looking to buy a home and real estate agents.  Smith helps real estate agents have successful open houses and helps them with their Facebook pages.  Her track record speaks for itself; at her last open house, 115 groups of people visited the property, which generated 30 leads.

Smith is dedicated to her clients.  She has been working with numbers her entire life and recently became licensed lender so she could work “Where Your Family Comes First.”  Her coworkers include Michael J. Thomas and Jeanie Wavrin. They are wonderful professional people with over 30 years of combined experience in the real estate field.   In 2009, Alliance Financial Resources was awarded the Best of Business Award by the Small Business Commerce Association in the financial consultant category.  The winners of these awards are selected based on consumer reports and surveys.

On February 10th Smith is teaching a DIY Facebook class for members of the real estate industry.  Attendees will revise and customize their business Facebook pages, including creating a side graphic.  Smith has a beautiful side graphic on her Facebook page.  The class will be at the Devry school at West Gate, at 6751 N. Sunset Blvd., 3rd Floor, in Glendale.  This is a great opportunity of real estate agents to use social media to share information with potential buyers and enhance their reputation for being professional and progressive.  Please visit and “Like” her Facebook page.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Nancy Smith of Alliance Financial Resources.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 22 – The Foster Group

Today’s sponsor is The Foster Group, a new and unique law firm with offices in Arizona and Indiana.  Founded by Troy and Kristen Foster, The Foster Group is staffed with exceptional lawyers with big firm experience who want to provide the individualized service and care of a boutique law firm.  These lawyers are former partners at large national law firms, have worked for federal and state judges, and have represented large international companies.

Troy Foster’s career has focused on education and employment law.  He has been named one of The Best Lawyers in America for many years.  Troy has also received the highest ratings for ethical standards and substantive ability by his peers.  Kristen Foster specializes in labor and employment law, trust and estates, education and special education law, family law, and media relations.  One of her previous positions was an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona, where she represented Child Protective Services. Along with being on the Boards of Directors for numerous organizations, the Fosters recently founded Henry’s Hope, an organization that is dedicated to the needs of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The core principles of The Foster Group are commitment, hard work, trust, and dedication.  Their goal is to understand their clients’ needs and to provide them efficient and practical solutions to their problems.  The Foster Group is focused on providing high-quality, cost-effective services and being attentive and responsive to their clients.

The Foster Group specializes in labor law, education law, family law, trusts and estates, civil rights, and transactional corporate and real estate law.  It has a Human Resources Solutions Group that provides trainings, internal investigations, policy revisions, or high-level consultation work to companies.  Recently, The Foster Group has offered trainings in Arizona regarding the recent legalization of medicinal marijuana and its effect on the workplace.  It is also dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of individual who want to have their story heard in the news media, in print, or published in a book.

Troy Foster also offers his services as a mediator. He has experience mediating employment, civil, tort, legal and medical malpractice disputes.  His thoughtful nature and compassionate heart make me an ideal person to help parties resolve their problems.

The Foster Group is a unique and desirable place to work.  Unlike other firms that work their lawyers to death, The Foster Group only requires lawyers to bill 1600 hours per year.  Other firms require their lawyers to bill 1850-2200 per year, which is one of the reasons why lawyers are rumored to be addicted to stimulants and have heart attacks when they are 40.  The Foster Group also has a fun, event-driven bonus system, such as trips to Hawaii.  Additionally, the firm plans to launch a Community Involvement Program where it will hire an attorney to work full-time on pro bono cases.

The Foster Group can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is The Foster Group.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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SALK Day 21 – Save the Manatee Club

Manatee

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When Day 21 didn’t get a sponsor, my classmate, Michael Vincent, offered to sponsor it at a reduced price to promote the Save the Manatee Club.  I’m humoring him because I appreciate his wit and originality.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Michael Vincent.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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SALK Day 20 – Tyler Allen Law Firm

Today’s sponsor is Tyler Allen of the Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC in Phoenix, Arizona.  He asked me to tell you about his estate planning services for LGBT couples.  This is a topic that is hugely important because LGBT couples need to create legal agreements between the partners in order to obtain a fraction of the rights that are automatically bestowed to their married heterosexual counterparts.

Photo courtesy of Tyler K. Allen

Tyler Allen assists LGBT couples in estate planning.  This includes creating wills, living wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare powers of attorney.  Allen takes the time to understand each client’s unique situation and designs an estate plan that ensures that the client receives the maximum benefits for themselves and their loved ones.  His goal is to foresee and prevent problems in determining who should receive your possessions after you pass.

Arizona is not as cool as Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC where same sex marriage is legal.  Therefore, it is imperative that LGBT couples protect their rights and relationships with domestic partnership agreements.  This is a legal document that is similar to a prenuptial agreement.  It declares how property will be owned in the relationship and how it will be distributed in the event of one partner’s death or if the couple breaks up.

Arizona is also severely lame in that it only recognizes one parent – the biological or adoptive parent – as a child’s parent.  Allen can also create parenting agreements to protect the best interests of LGBT couples’ children.  These agreements state what the couple’s joint rights and responsibilities are.  These agreements are exceedingly helpful to ensure that both parents can continue to be in the children’s lives if couple ever separates.

Committed LGBT couples need powers of attorney for each other.  A power of attorney lets a person decide who will make decisions for them in the event that they are incapacitated.  Married heterosexuals are automatically given the power to make decisions on their spouse’s behalf under these circumstances.  LGBT couples need healthcare powers of attorney to make medical decisions for their partner and financial powers of attorney to make financial decisions.  Without a power of attorney, the person’s family and not their partner will be given the power to make these decisions, regardless of how long the couple has been together or whether the partner is the only one who knows what their partner would have wanted.

If you need assistance in establishing an estate plan or domestic partnership, please contact Tyler K. Allen for a free consultation.  He also maintains a fabulous gay rights blog.  If you are not LGBT, you can contact him too – he’s open to heteros too – married and unmarried.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Tyler Allen.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 19 – Why I Love Star Trek

Today’s sponsor is my dear friend from high school, Sara Shea.  She asked me to write about why I love Star Trek and how it continues to be relevant in my life.

I started watching Star Trek with The Next Generation when I was 13.  I saw my first episode on a Saturday night while I was waiting for Mom to finish making dinner.  It only took that one episode for me to be hooked.  Watching the show became a fixture in my schedule through adulthood.  I also sought out other Trekkies.

I was often a withdrawn, angry, and lonely child.  My experiences with people taught me that most people could not be trusted and that it was every man for himself.  I had seen the dark side of humanity and I believed that that was how everyone was.  I had learned that trusting people led to being hurt and so it was better to be alone and trust no one.

I fell in love with Star Trek because of the interpersonal relationships between the characters.  Each person was vastly different and yet all of them were accepted with their talents and their faults.  I admired the level of devotion between them – they never abandoned a friend in need.  They also had integrity. My experiences had taught me that people will be deceitful and hurtful if it benefitted themselves.  On Star Trek, I saw characters who did what was right – even to their own detriment, and they protected those who could not protect themselves.

Watching Star Trek gave me hope.  It gave me a different perspective for seeing the world, to have hope that people could behave better than what I had previously seen and experienced.  It taught me that the battered and weak could become strong and empowered.  Star Trek gave me examples to emulate, of people who can support the unpopular but right argument.  It’s a hard thing to do, and often a lonely position to be in.  Star Trek was one of the things that taught me that I have a responsibility to be that person.

There have been many times in my life when I felt like a freak – for being a geek, bisexual, and at times outspoken and aggressive.  Star Trek showed me that being different didn’t make me a freak; I just bring something different to the table.

I love going to Star Trek conventions.  I love the overwhelming feeling of acceptance that I feel the second I walk into the convention hall.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet forward-thinking smart people.  For many of us, Star Trek is not just a show.  At the risk of sounding cultish, it’s a way of life; it’s a special perspective on the world.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I’ve made the pilgrimage to Riverside, Iowa – the future birthplace of Captain Kirk.

The signature of all of my emails is a quote from Star Trek: First Contact: “Don’t try to be a great man.  Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment.”  I love this quote.  It is constant reminder that my job is to work hard and have integrity.  It’s not my job to decide what my impact on others will be.  I give the attribution to the character, Zefram Cochrane.  It’s not a blaring announcement that I’m a Trekkie, but it lets my fellow Trekkies know that I’m one of them.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Sara Shea.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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