Tactical Backpack Review: 5.11 vs First Tactical


Single soldier walking in the woods with a backpack

Let’s switch gears for a moment. My last review was on large three day tactical backpacks. This review will center on smaller backpacks to carry your laptop, or use as your everyday bag. There are a lot of different gadgets and components with these backpacks, so I will on focus on my top two bags. This post concentrates and juxtaposes the 5.11 Rush12 Tactical Backpack with the First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack.

In my last review I talked about what makes a good tactical backpack and how to choose the right tactical backpack, so I will not go into those elements on this post. However, if you wish to read my last review, click here. That said, when choosing a true tactical backpack, one for life and death tactical missions, you need to ask yourself one very important question. More on that later.

5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack

The 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack has tons of organized storage pockets for most people with the durability of what’s expected from a tactical backpack (without the bulky look you see in most backpacks). 5.11 is a very reputable brand and has garnered the respect from the tactical community because it takes pride in its products.

I have used this backpack in class and at work and no one really noticed it stand out aside from “cool backpack” type of comments. If I were to bring the typical type of tactical backpack to class or work, I’m sure I would have gotten other type of looks or stares like, “this guy thinks he’s still at war.”

The 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack is truly a multi-purpose bag, you don’t have to dig-it-out to go on a hike and throw it back in your closet after your done.

What I most like about the backpack is the look of the bag. Getting past the aesthetics, the backpack feels great, is very durable, has multi-purpose use, and is made by the must respected brands in the industry.

First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack

Let’s welcome First Tactical to the tactical community. I was pleasantly surprised by this product, for many reasons. Storage, ease of use, and comfort were some of the main standouts that really pushed this backpack above all the others.

The backpack has a great amount of storage space for its size. You are able to put small items such as cell phone, gps, flashlights and binos, while still having room for larger items like your laptop, food and survival gear.

Every bag has storage space but what really makes this bag standout is the compartments within the storage area. You don’t have to fish around the bottom of your bag to find something, there’s organized compartments that take you right to an item.

Another feature is the repositionable/replaceable compression straps. This is great because sometimes those straps get in your way, or needs to be repositioned to support other survival gear. This is great engineering and First Tactical should be applauded for their efforts.

First Tactical has also come-up with the Hook and Hang Thru system that unzips at the top and bottom of the backpack allowing specialized items like the First Tactical rifle sleeve or other survival gear to slide through and securely hook and hang in place.

Finally, the removable internal backboard can be used as a survival tool such as a shovel, splint, or paddle. This is an amazing feature that adds more credibility that the engineering and product development done at First Tactical is top-notch.


5.11 Tactical Rush12
Main Compartment: 18″ L x 11″ W x 6.5″ D
Front Pocket: 12″ L x 9″ W x 1.75″D
Hydration Pocket: 17″ x 11″
Total Capacity: 1,476 cubic inches / 24 liters
Price: $99.99
Website: https://www.511tactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

First Tactical Specialist Half Day
Main Compartment: 17″ L x 11″ W x 6.5″ D
Front Pocket: 8.5″ L x 4″ W x 1″ D
Hydration Pocket: N/A
Total Capacity: 1,525 cubic inches / 25 liters
Price: $99.99
Website: https://www.firsttactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Good and Bad

5.11 Tactical Rush12 – Pro

  1. Durable and water repellent
  2. Lots of pockets and storage room
  3. Can be used as an everyday bag or emergency
  4. Made from high quality material

5.11 Tactical Rush12 – Cons

  1. The backpack doesn’t have a padded sleeve for the laptop

To purchase the 5.11 Tactical Rush12 Backpack, click the image below

First Tactical Specialist Half Day – Pro

  1. Oversized velcro
  2. Removable/replaceable compression straps
  3. Compatible Molle system platform
  4. Multi-use internal backboard
  5. 4 Loops at the bottom of the bag for carrying additional equipment
  6. Uses YKK zippers Duraflex Stealth plastic buckles
  7. Adjustable sternum strap

First Tactical Specialist Half Day – Con

  1. No pocket for hydration bladder

To purchase the First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack, click the image below

My Final Opinion

As you know, I am very fond of the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpacks. However, First Tactical has got a product that is very comparable, if not slightly better, than the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Backpack. Both backpacks make a great every day carry (EDC) bag for the daily commute, and has enough space for the weekend trips, hikes, or bug-out bag. Since both backpacks are priced the same, it shouldn’t be a factor when making your decision.

Both backpacks have more than enough compartments to work with to organize your gadgets well. The built-in pockets are made of a lighter material so it doesn’t add up to the weight of the bag. But it does give you enough vertical room to keep your things organized. Therefore, because both backpacks are comparable in storage compartments, it shouldn’t be a factor when making your decision.

That leaves durability as the deciding factor. Since 5.11 has a reputable brand name, and because they have a proven durable product, they are still my backpack of choice. However, because the First Tactical Specialist Half Day backpack is made of the same material, there is no doubt the durability factor will be similar to the 5.11 That said, because the durability factor has not been proven by me, I cannot recommend the First Tactical Specialist Half Day backpack. After a solid six-month use, I will update this post and give my final recommendation.

A tactical backpack is your constant companion on trips. You need one that is durable, comfortable, flexible, and capable of carrying all your gear without any problems. Backpacks with high-end accessories, such as these two backpacks, may come off as expensive but if your mission is life or death, you need to ask yourself one important question. How much would you pay for a dependable and durable tactical backpack?

If you used First Tactical and can confirm its durability, please leave a comment below and let me know.  Also, if you had any issues with your First Tactical Specialist Half Day Backpack, please describe your issue below.

Best Tactical Backpack Review: 5.11 vs. Reebow


soldier with tactical backpackI don’t think there are a lot of people who would disagree with me when I say, that the 5.11 Tactical Rush Backpacks are perhaps the best tactical backpacks for the outdoorsman/woman who enjoy hiking and hunting.

With so many tactical backpacks on the market, I have chosen to compare the 5.11 Tactical Rush72 Backpack with the new Reebow Gear Military Tactical Backpack Large Army 3 Day Assault Pack. However, before we compare the two, we should consider what makes a good tactical backpack.

What Makes a Good Tactical Backpack

As most outdoorsmen/women know, tactical backpacks are designed to be reliable and durable, even in the worst of conditions. They should also be comfortable and offer enough space to carry all your gear in an organized manner to include a wide range of pockets to store your gear. Because tactical backpacks are made for rough usage they are also usually made to be either waterproof or weather resistant.

Reinforced seams are also critical for tactical backpacks to make sure they have the longest possible life in the field. Also, proper padding on the shoulder straps is crucial to prevent chafing, irritation and unnecessary weight balance issues during a long hike.

How To Choose the Right Backpack

Choosing the right backpack comes down to choosing the right size backpack. If you just need a backpack to carry small items such as duck calls, fishing lures, arrow heads and other small items, than a small tactical backpack might be right for you. This can be a single strap tactical backpack, which is meant to be worn over one shoulder. Also, some small tactical backpacks offer interlocking capability, which means it can be attached to a full size backpack.

A large size tactical backpack is made to carry a bulk of your supplies. It can take most of your hunting/fishing gear, keeping your supplies dry, safe and organized.

Tactical backpacks also come in various styles and colors, which means you can customize your backpack based upon your needs. Depending on your specific excursion, making sure that your tactical backpack is camouflaged to your surroundings can be the difference between a quiet stalk, or scaring off game.

So, when it comes to picking out the right tactical backpack, you need to see what makes sense for you and how organized it needs to be. It can help when you need to choose from the wide range of tactical backpacks on the market today.


5.11 Tactical Rush72
Main Compartment: 23″ H x 13.5″ L x 8.5″ D
Front Pocket: 15.5″ H x 11.5″ L x 2″ D
Hydration Pocket: 21″ H x 13.5″ L
Left & Right Side Pocket: 16.5″ H x 6″ L x 1.75
Total Capacity: 3,342 cubic inch / 55 liter
Weight: 5.2 lbs
Price: $169.99
Website: https://www.511tactical.com/
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Reebow Gear
Main Compartment: 19.5″ H x 12.5″ L x 4″ D
Front Pocket: 15.5″ H x 9″ L x 2.5″ D
Hydration Pocket: 15″ H x 10.5″ L
Left & Right Side Pocket: N/A
Total Capacity: 1,482 cubic inch / 24 liter
Weight: 3.0 lbs
Price: $31.99
Website: http://www.reebowgear.com/
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

The Good & the Bad

5.11 Tactical Rush – Pros

  1. Durable and water repellent
  2. Lots of pockets and storage room
  3. Can be used as an everyday bag or emergency
  4. Made from high quality material

5.11 Tactical Rush – Cons

  1. The backpack doesn’t have a padded laptop sleeve
  2. Too expensive

To purchase the 5.11 Tactical Rush72, click on the image below.

Reebow Gear – Pros

  1. Very affordable
  2. Accommodates a hydration bladder
  3. Lots of pockets and storage room
  4. Water repellent

Reebow Gear – Cons

  1. Although double stitched, the bag has proven not to be durable
  2. Can not be used for rugged conditions

To purchase the Reebow, click the image below.

My Final Opinion

My mother always said, “You get what you pay for” but I would not say to stay clear from Reebow Gear. If I was still in the military, I could not, in good conscience, recommend this tactical backpack. However, since I transitioned out of the military and I’m using this backpack for hikes or two to three day trips, the price point can’t be passed up. If you understand that the Reebow Gear “tactical” backpacks should not be used in rugged conditions, then you should be alright. That said, If you have the means, I would not hesitate getting any of the 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpacks.

The 5.11 Rush Tactical Backpacks are, in my opinion, the best tactical backpacks in the market today.

Best Way To Start A Business Online

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Laptop and Failed It! book

Have you tried and failed to make money online?

If you answered YES, you are going to want to read this entire post. I’m going to show you the best way to start a business online in the next few minutes.

If you’re like most people, you tried to achieve success online but you could not overcome a certain obstacle, whether it was lack of education, lack of support or just couldn’t get your website going. That is what happens for most people when they attempt to start a business online.

Thank goodness you made it to this post. I am here to help.

What are the THREE things needed to start your online business?

Most people create success in many different ways. However, to earn money online you only need the following three things:

  1. They have help

    There is nothing worse than getting stuck on something and having no place to go to get help. But that is what one affiliate program told their new members – that if you get stuck, figure it out yourself because that is the only way you are going to learn. That was the last day I had anything to do with that particular program. When I get stuck on something and can’t figure it out myself, I get frustrated.
  2. They have their own website

    If you’re trying to go into the online world without a website of your own, you will not be successful. Sorry, I don’t mean to be short, but that’s just the honest truth.Have no fear, within the first four training lessons you will have a website up and running within minutes. You see, today building a website takes minutes, not days. If you go to a website and they say it will take a few days or weeks to develop your own personal website, STOP. Get you money back and head for the hills. You see, here at Wealthy Affiliate you will have your own website for FREE and you will have it within minutes.
  3. They have training

    Unfortunately, without learning something you are not going to be able to do anything. Lucky for you, Wealthy Affiliate has a very strong training platform. The use of some of this training will be available to you with the Starter Membership.

What do you get when you sign-up with Wealthy Affiliate?

I think you can probably guess what Wealthy Affiliate will give you when you sign-up. If your not sure, here is what you are going to get when you sign-up for $0.00:

  • Personal Help & Support
    • Ability to get personal help from me;
    • Help within a community of 10,000’s users;
    • Live chat support;
    • Ongoing topical discussions
  • 2 Free Websites
    • Fully functional WordPress sites;
    • Ready to make money online.
  • Training
    • Video classes;
    • Tutorials;
    • Courses;
    • Classrooms.

All this for $0.00 and no credit card. Trust me when I say, you will not find training and support like this anywhere. Although their is a premium option available for you to consider, I recommend that you first try out the starter membership. To compare and contrast the benefits of Premium Membership from a Starter Membership click the image below.

Join WA Starter Membership

If you’re still having doubts about Wealthy Affiliate click here for my FULL review.

If you have any questions about how to start a business online, please leave me a comment below. I will be more than happy to help.

What Is SiteRubix.com?

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Site Rubix Sign-up

Are you nervous to create your first website to post blogs or your first online business? Well, now there is nothing to worry about because Site Rubix is the easiest free website builder on the market. SiteRubix.com is a website hosting platform inside Wealthy Affiliate, which was launched in 2007 to help simplify the way websites are built.

Don’t let technology scare you from starting your dream. With Site Rubix it’s never been easier, quicker and free to start your website on this platform. So, if you’re ready to start, check below to see if your desired domain name is available.

Before Site Rubix, building a website was long and complicated. Site Rubix takes the complicated process of building a website and makes it simple and straitforward. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to build a website.

Create a Website in Under 30 Seconds

To sum up, you simply choose your domain name, click ‘Build It Now,’ pick a theme and Site Rubix will take care of the rest. Site Rubix has taken away any of the obstacles you might have had to set-up your first website. When you start your free website at Site Rubix you will see how beginner-friendly and easy it really is.

Site Rubix also gives you 2 free websites of your own, including free domains and free hosting. You get to choose from over 3,000 WordPress themes to get the right look. But if you don’t know how to publish your first post, don’t worry, you will have 24/7 community support. What if you’re not sure about your chosen website? Again, no problem, just ask for feedback with the Wealthy Affiliate members and pointers on how to improve your website.

What does Site Rubix have to offer?

Site Rubix Features

Look at the features on the right. At a glance Site Rubix is more than just a website building platform. Online tools and analytics come as standard giving you the edge against the competition.

Let’s discuss how these features can can help grow your website and online business.

Site Manager – This is where you get an overview of your website. You log into your website here, post content or edit your website.

Site Builder – This is where you can build your second free website. Remember, with where you can build your website in 30 seconds or less.

Site Domains – This is where you can purchase your own domain, transfer an existing domain or check for availability of a domain.

Site Comments – This is where you can ask for comments about your website. Google ranks websites higher if they can show reader engagement and trust.

Site Feedback – This is where you can get expert advice on your website, content and overall layout. The advice given are from website makers who have been doing this longer than you and can give constructive criticism that can take your website to the next level.

Site Support – Although I have yet to use site support, I am told within the WA community that it is excellent. Whatever technical question you might have, they are available 24/7 365 days a year.


Site Rubix gives you two (2) free websites to try, complete with domains and hosting so you can check it out. These websites are yours forever. You have nothing to lose, so go to siterubix.com or just enter your domain below.

If you have any questions about building your website, please leave a comment below. If your interested in Wealthy Affiliate, click here to check-out my review. It may help answer some questions you might have about the WA community.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

How To Apply For A VA Home Loan

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Brick home with sold sign in front yard

First, you may be wondering, how does VA loans work? The federal government doesn’t lend money with VA loans, but it does offer a guarantee. You borrow from a private lender, and the government guarantees payment for a portion of your mortgage. If you default on your loan, the government will pay back the lender.

With this type of guarantee, lenders may offer more favorable terms for VA loans compared with conventional mortgages because they are guaranteed repayment. For example, you may be able to take out a loan with no down payment.

You can use a VA loan to construct a home, make energy efficient improvements on your home or refinance a mortgage. However, you can only use a VA loan for your primary residence. This program is not available for a vacation or investment property. You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to use a VA loan and you can use this program more than once because it’s a lifetime benefit.

Who is eligible?

The VA loan program is available to active-duty members of the military, veterans, past and present members of the National Guard or reserves, and surviving spouses of services members who died in combat. However, if the surviving spouse remarried they are not eligible. Also, veterans with dishonorable discharged are not eligible. To be eligible, applicants must meet a minimum length of service:

  • 181 days of active service during peacetime
  • 90 days of active duty during wartime
  • Less than 90 days of active duty if discharged for a service related disability
  • Six years in the reserves or the National Guard

When you apply for a VA loan, you will need to present a certificate of eligibility, COE, from the VA lender to show you qualify for the program. You can apply for the COE online through the VA website or click here to apply. Your lender may also pull up your COE when you apply for a loan. Watch the video below to see what happens when you click the link above.

In addition to military service requirements, the lender’s income, credit score and other requirements to qualify for the mortgage. While the VA has no minimum credit score, lenders do: typically a minimum of 620. The lender will also consider your debt-to-income ratio, which is your monthly debt payments compared with your income. Most prefer a DTI of 43% or lower.

Are there loan limits?

The VA does not set a limit on how much you can borrow, but it does limit how much of the loan it will guarantee. This can determine if you will need to make a down payment. If your loan exceeds the ceiling limit of VA loan, you may be required to make up the difference with a down payment.

So what are the advantages of a VA Loan?

  • No money down
  • No mortgage insurance
  • You can qualify with fair credit
  • Sellers can help with closing cost
  • The VA funding fee can be financed
  • Cash is available for energy-efficient upgrades
  • There are no prepayment penalties
  • You can get support from the VA

So what are the disadvantages of a VA Loan?

  • You’ll pay a VA funding fee
  • They’re only available for primary residences
  • You can’t buy a fixer-upper in major disrepair

How do you apply for a VA Loan?

Applying for a VA loan is similar to a conventional loan. However, the two additional documents you will need is your COE and your DD-214. The lender will also schedule an appraisal of the property from a VA-certified appraiser. The appraiser will inspect the property to make sure it meets the VA’s minimum property requirements and is acceptable for a loan. If the property does not meet the requirements, the appraiser will point-out what needs to be repaired before you can take out a VA loan. You will need to negotiate repairs with the seller and schedule another inspection with the appraiser after the repairs are completed.

What are the different types of VA Loan Programs?

The VA offers various programs, in addition to the standard VA home loan program. If you have a home loan, you may be able to refinance with the VA for a better interest rate or to cash out the equity in your home. Native American and disabled veterans can receive additional benefits. To find out what the additional benefits are, contact your state VA offices and they will provide access to other benefits. Below is a list and a brief description of the different VA Loan Programs:

  • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan – also known as the VA Streamline Refinance loan, can refinance your existing VA home loan. With the IRRRL program, you can replace your current VA loan with a new one with different terms. This program is not automatic, you need to apply for it through a lender.
  • VA Cash-out Refinance Home Loan – this program allows you to borrow against the equity of your home to make renovations, payoff credit cards or buy a new car. The VA will add the amount you cash out to your outstanding home loan.
  • Native American Direct Loan – Native American veterans who want to live on federal trust land – such as lands in tribal trusts, Alaskan Native corporate villages and Pacific island territories can use this program. If you’re eligible, you can use this loan to purchase, improve or build a home on federal trust land. You can also use this program to refinance an existing VA loan.
  • Adapted Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans – the VA offers three grants to help veterans with certain disabilities create an adapted home to accommodate disabilities. These grants pay out different amount and have different eligibility requirements. These are grants, not loans, so you don’t have to pay them back. They are as follows:
    • Specially Adapted Housing gran (SAH)t;
    • Special Housing Adaptation grant (SHA); and the
    • Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant.
  • State Resources – Your state may offer additional benefits for veterans. Many states, including Florida, New York and Virginia, offer an exemption from property taxes for eligible veterans.

My personal experience

In the spirit of full disclosure, my first home was bought with a conventional loan from a small local bank. That said, my younger brother, who retired from the Army in 2018, purchased his first home with a VA loan. My brother and I are very close and he was willing to share his personal experience with the VA home loan process. The following exchange is the result of my brief conversation with my brother:

Ron: So, thank you for taking the time to help out fellow veterans.

Marvin: No problem.

Ron: If you had to rank your overall experience with the VA home loan, how would you rank it from a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest score?

Marvin: I would definitely give them a 5. My mortgage broker spoke directly with the VA, so to me dealing with the VA was all done behind the scene, if you will. I never had to speak with the VA directly.

Ron: When the mortgage broker asked for the COE and your DD-214, you provided that directly to your mortgage broker?

Marvin: Yep!

Ron: What was the best part of the process?

Marvin: I can’t point to one specific thing. The entire process seemed painless. I will say that I was pre-approved for a VA loan for almost $400,000. I was shocked, but I knew what my house payments needed to be, so I told them I only needed $100,000. The look on my realtor’s face was priceless, she wanted to show me houses in a “better” neighborhood but I declined. You see, I was going through a divorce at the time and I knew I couldn’t afford anything too extravagant.

Ron: That was smart. Would you get another VA home loan?

Marvin: Absolutely!

Ron: What was the worst part of the process?

Marvin: I can’t say there was a bad part of the process.

Ron: Did your appraisal come-in at the seller’s price?

Marvin: My appraisal came in more than loan amount. So I had instant equity coming into the house. That was an awesome feeling.

Ron: If you remember, how long did the entire process take? For me, using a conventional loan, it took a little short of 30 days from approval of the seller’s offer to closing of the loan.

Marvin: Mine took about 30 days, but my ex-wife made my life miserable towards the end because she wouldn’t sign the Quit Claim Deed.

Ron: For those of you who don’t know, the Quit Claim Deed is used between a husband and a wife who are terminating their relationship. The intent is for one party to retain the property while the other party will no longer be responsible for any aspect of property ownership.

Marvin: Right! Because my ex-wife decided to drag her feet, the first lender backed out of the deal which meant I had to rent my new house to the seller for two weeks while my mortgage broker looked for another lender who was willing to close on the property. Luckily, PennyMac stepped-up and here I am.

Ron: Just to be clear, did the VA get involved when you ex-wife wouldn’t sign the Quit Claim Deed?

Marvin: Not really, again I never had to speak to them, they just guaranteed the loan. To me it appeared that the VA didn’t care who lent me the money, or if my ex-wife signed the document.

Ron: Okay, hey thanks for answering these questions.

Marvin: No problem.


Applying for any home loan can be a complicated process, and VA loans are no different. I hope this post was helpful in guiding you to the most common questions. The most important thing I want you to remember is that the government doesn’t make home loans. The VA only guarantees the lender that they will get their money back. Look at it as a form of insurance, for each loan. Therefore, look at VA loans as a government-backed loan from a mortgage lender, not a home loan directly from the government. So, here are the steps for getting a VA loan:

Five Steps To A VA Loan

  1. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility
  2. Apply to a mortgage lender for the loan
  3. Decide on a home and sign a mortgage agreement
  4. Order an appraisal from the VA
  5. Close the loan and move-in

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. If you had a different experience using the VA home loan program please share it in the comment section below. More importantly, if this post answered any of your questions, share it with other veterans within your social media site above.

Hosting WordPress Website With Wealthy Affiliate


Choosing the right hosting for your WordPress website will be one the most important decisions you will make for your online business. Why? Because the health of your website will rely on your hosting provider.

But how can you tell which hosting provider will be the best one for your website?

There are so many to choose from: HostGator, BlueHost, Site5…and many more.

Whichever host you choose, there are a few things you need to seriously consider.

Speed, speed, speed! – Google started using site speed as a ranking signal in their algorithm way back in 2010. It continues to serve as one of the many factors that determine where your website shows up in search results. Faster sites creates happy users, so when a site is slow, visitors spend less time there. Google recognizes this, which is why they place a high value on site speed.

Uptime – If your site goes down, clients or customers will not be able to find you or access your website. If that happens, new customers may miss your site altogether and existing customers may leave your site out of sheer frustration. This means lost revenue and lost profits.

Customer Support – Regardless of the kind of web hosting you are using, it is critical you receive quick & reliable customer support. There are many problems that can occur that can make your experience at your website miserable. No matter what the problem is, or its simplicity, customers need help to solve their questions or problems. Without fast and efficient customer support you might encounter a problem that could cause financial loss to your online business.

What are the benefits of Wealthy Affiliate Hosting?

Simple, they are fast! The average page load time is 1.3 seconds. Your WordPress site will always be hosted on the latest and most powerful servers in the world through Amazon hosting. They monitor your websites to make sure they are running optimally. Amazon’s C3 Cloud Hosting servers (Amazon c3.Large) are one of the fastest in the industry with data centers all around the world. Major global companies use the same hosting solution.

In addition, Wealthy Affiliate double host your site. What does that mean? If one of your websites were for some reason to go down, Wealthy Affiliate has a “mirror” of your website running at all times that they will swap-in, instantly. This layer of redundancy adds to uptime and is unparalleled in the industry.

Wealthy Affiliate also backsup your website daily. Why do they do that? Well, they understand that when you play around with technology, mistakes will be made. Wealthy Affiliate give you the peace of mind knowing that they take a daily snapshot of your website. So, if you ever mess things up, they can get your website back up and running in no time.

Hosting a WordPress website in Wealthy Affiliate has several other benefits too.You will also receive access to all the internal training material and courses, webinars, and forums. The Wealthy Affiliate community is also very supportive of its new members. They encourage their members to ask any question within the community because they believe there is always more than one way to solve a problem.


Wealthy Affiliate hosting is perfect for beginners. It’s fast, reliable and has great support. It’s WordPress website builder is easy to use, plus they allow you to host 25 websites at no additional cost. Each website has free secure socket layer (SSL) certification that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. Why is that important? It’s important because it activates the padlock and the https protocols which allows secure connections from a webserver to a browser. The bottom line is that Wealthy Affiliate has everything you need to host your WordPress website.

For my review of Wealthy Affiliate click here. Thanks for taking the time to read this post on Hosting WordPress Website with Wealthy Affiliate. If you’re interested in  Wealthy Affiliate click the link.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Jaaxy Keyword Research Tool Review

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Research LibraryOne of the best keyword research tools for an affiliate marketer is Jaaxy. There are many other keyword research tools that are free and some you have to pay for, but none measure up to Jaaxy.

So what is Jaaxy? Jaaxy is an advanced affiliate marketing keyword research tool specifically developed for affiliate marketers. It is an advanced user-friendly platform that has built-in keyword research to make your efforts less strenuous. Jaaxy manages all types of keyword, competition, market, website research all at your fingertips.

See for yourself below, it’s really cool and it’s free!

Jaaxy collects comprehensive data from Google, Bing and Yahoo and outlines it in a very easy to understand way. Within Jaaxy you have access to the following tools:

  • Site Ranking
  • My Lists
  • Search Analysis
  • Alphabet Soup
  • Brainstorm HQ
  • Affiliate Programs
  • Niche Keyword Lists

Why Jaaxy?

I have used a lot of marketing training courses where they tell you to use Google Research Planner because it’s a free tool. However, Google Keyword Planner is only useful to Google Adwords as the competition shown in Google Keyword Planner competition column is the amount of competition between Google Adwords and not site competition for a specific keyword.

To my knowledge, Jaaxy is the only tool that gathers and presents your niche related data in a comprehensive manner suitable for affiliates and online niche marketers. It is a tool that really gives you a host of information while leveraging your research time and efforts.

Now, if you add Jaaxy with Wealthy Affiliate you have something special. Check-out my Wealthy Affiliate review here to see how integrating both these platforms will allow you to create, grow and manage your online business, at any level. How does Jaaxy do this? Jaaxy and Wealthy Affiliate teaches all its users how to find keyword searches for websites using various techniques. Not only that, both platforms teaches you how to choose a domain name for SEO (search engine optimization).

What Jaaxy Is Not

Jaaxy is not an automatic research tool that will do all the work for you. It will not spit out keywords and ideas at you. It is a tool that will make it easy to do your research in a fun, accurate and effective way.

How Much Does Jaaxy Cost

You can start using Jaaxy for FREE with limited features or you could opt for one of the two paid pricing plans on Jaaxy. Here is a breakdown of the plans:

Free Plan ($0)

This is a great way for you to test what Jaaxy is, how it works, and how to see for yourself if it is a tool you could benefit from and be willing to pay a monthly fee for. Below is a list of the features you get with the free plan:

  • 30 keyword searches
  • 20 search results
  • Website Analyzer
  • Affiliate Program Finder
  • Keyword List Manager
  • Brainstorm Idea Feed
  • Keyword Competition Data
  • 1x speed
  • Affiliate Program
  • 30 SiteRank Analysis Scans

Pro Plan ($49/month)

The Pro Plan was designed for people new to internet marketing. For $49 per month you get everything in the free plan plus the following:

  • 3x speed
  • Sortable Research Results
  • Unlimited Search History
  • Search Analysis
  • Manual QSR Search
  • Manual Domain Search
  • Alphabet Soup (15/letter)
  • 2x Multi-Thread Search
  • 2k SiteRank Analysis Scans

Enterprise Plan ($99/month)

The Enterprise Plan was developed for the more advanced internet marketer who needs to compile enormous lists keywords for their own or customers’ blog and websites. The Enterprise Plan includes everything in the Pro Plan to include the following:

  • 35 Research Results
  • 5x speed
  • Automated QSR
  • Automated Domain Search
  • Alphabet Soup (50/letter)
  • 5x Multi-Thread Search
  • Unlimited Keyword Search
  • 10k SiteRank Analysis Scans

My Experience With Jaaxy

Jaaxy is one of those “must have” tools for internet marketers. I found myself running keyword searches and getting very excited as ideas began flowing on things I could blog about. I could see immediately if keywords would rank on search engines and if it was available as a domain name.

A keyword research tool is the most important asset for any online marketer. Add to the fact that Jaaxy is fun, easy and the most comprehensive research tool available at whatever price level, it is a must have. Without a thorough keyword research tool, you could spend hours researching, developing content and building a great website only to find out that billions of potential visitors will never find your site. Don’t let that happen to you. Click here to see how Jaaxy works. You have nothing to lose because it’s totally FREE!

How To Appeal Or Request For Waiver: Overpayments of Benefits


Female with credit card and laptop shopping

WARNING: Do not ignore a letter from the Department of Veterans Affair and/or Debt Management Center about being overpaid. They can and will begin the collection process no matter your circumstances.

A veteran has the right to dispute the amount of a debt and/or the right to request waiver of repayment. If the veteran is presently receiving benefits, and disputes the amount of the debt, they should notify the VA of the dispute, in writing within 30 days. They can also request a hearing. If the veteran does not dispute the overpayment amount, the VA will start withholding the veteran’s benefits and applying their benefit toward repayment of the debt in 60 days.

If the veteran does not dispute the overpayment amount, but does not believe they are at fault in creating the debt and believes they are unable to repay the debt without financial hardship, they can request a waiver of the debt. Waivers must be requested in writing within 180 days from when the Debt Management Center sent the veteran the initial notice the overpayment amount was due. This is a firm statute of limitations and will not be forgiven. A debt will become final and there will be no ability to seek a waiver if a waiver is not requested in 180 days. Remember, a veteran can seek a waiver even if they do not dispute the existence of the debt. However, the veteran should also complete VA Form 5655 – Financial Status Report showing their income and expenses.

VA regulations prohibit collection of an overpayment – if a waiver has been requested within 180 days – when “collection would be against equity and good conscience.” The Court applies a six-factor analysis in deciding collection. These factors are listed below. However, if a waiver is not timely requested, the VA can and will collect the overpayment if there is a hardship and you would otherwise have been granted a waiver, if it had been timely submitted. The VA should give the waiver request a full and sympathetic reading.

  • Equity means it would not be “fair” or “just” to collect the overpayment from the veteran’s benefits.
  • Good Conscience means that given all the facts and circumstances of the case, the veteran’s fault, the veteran’s financial situation, the veteran’s age of expenses, or all other factors such that collecting it would disturb or greatly upset or shock the conscience of a reasonable human being.

The Six-Factors:

  1. Fault of Veteran – did the veteran engage in fraud or misrepresent something to the VA that caused them to be overpaid?
  2. Fault of the VA – was the overpayment due to VA error such as a miscalculation by the VA?
  3. Hardship – would repayment cause “undue hardship” to veterans and family depriving them of basic necessities?
  4. Reason for Benefit Defeated – would recovery defeat the purpose for which benefit were rewarded? If the veteran receives pension benefits due to being poor, this safety net should not be taken away and cause them to be homeless.
  5. Unjust Enrichment – would the veteran experience an undeserving windfall if there was no collection?
  6. Reliance – has the veteran changed their position in justifiable reliance on the benefit such that collection would be unfair and the veteran would be made worse off? Would repayment result in the veteran having to relinquish a valuable right or incur a legal obligation (e.g. They purchased a home or car and incurred debt and would lose it and be sued if they defaulted on the debt).

So, if you received a collection or overpayment letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs or the Debt Management Center, Do Not Ignore It! Contact your VSO at the American Legion, VFW, or DAV and they will be able to help you out.

If you have already gone through this process, please let us know below how the process went so others can benefit from your experience.

How Veterans Can Upgrade Their Discharge

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Legal OfficeDid you know veterans are able to upgrade their discharge? I didn’t. Apparently each military branch of service has two types of Boards that can grant discharge upgrades. It was created only to upgrade discharges, so you will never have to worry about being downgraded. The Boards can change both the character of the discharge and the narrative reason for the discharge. The Boards can also authorize monetary payments where appropriate.

Discharge Review Board (DRB)

In order to go before the DRB, the veteran can’t have more than 15 years since their date of discharge. No General Court Martial Conviction can be upgraded at this review board. The DRB does not change reenlistment codes or reinstate people to service. The veteran needs to complete an application for a DD293 and generally include their Official Military Personnel and Medical Records (OMPF). They should include anything else they want the board to consider, including a veteran personal statement. An attorney will generally prepare a brief to submit legal arguments warranting an upgrade, so the veteran should consult an attorney.

Standard of Review

The veteran must convince the board that their discharge reason or characterization was “inequitable” or “improper.” Inequitable means the reason or characterization of the discharge is not consistent with the policies and traditions of the service. For example, an inequity would be: “My discharge was inequitable because it was based on one isolated incident in 28 months of service with no other adverse action.” Improper means that the reason or characterization of the discharge was in error (i.e., is false, or violates a regulation or a law). For example, “The discharge was improper because the veteran’s pre-service civilian conviction, properly listed on his/her enlistment documents, was used in the discharge proceedings.”

Types of Review

A review can be on the record or on in-person. If you request on the record first, you can then request an in-person hearing if you did not win the first time. If you request the personal hearing first, you are finished at the DRB, you can submit a request for an upgrade to the Board of Correction for Military Records.

Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR)

The BCMR may correct any military record when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. The statute of limitation is ordinarily three years from the date the error was discovered – the boards can waive this statute of limitations. The veteran needs to complete an application for a DD149 and generally include their OMPF. They should include anything else they want the board to consider, including a personal statement. Again, an attorney will generally prepare a brief to submit legal arguments warranting an upgrade, so the veteran should consult an attorney.

Standard of Review

The veteran must convince the board that their discharge reason or characterization was the result of “error” or “injustice.” An error means an error of fact, law procedure, or discretion that was prejudicial to the veteran. An injustice means that the discharge given was warranted based on the conduct of the soldier and to not change it would be wrong.

Clemency – Discharge occurring as a result of a court-martial conviction may only be upgraded by a grant of clemency and will include a review of all in service and post service conduct and medical conditions.

The intent of this discharge upgrade was to ease the application process for veterans who are seeking redress and assisting the Boards in reaching fair and consistent results. So, if your discharge is impeding you from receiving benefits and you’re a disabled veteran, or just a veteran looking to receive benefits for the first time , check-out upgrading your discharge.

If you were successful in upgrading your discharge, please let us know which Board you used and provide any tips, or recommendations below.

Veteran Court: Does Your County Have One?

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Military soldier in front of the American Flag

Veterans experience injuries during war that forever changes the rest of their lives. Some of these injuries are physical, some are mental, some are a combination of both. Even though they make it back home, the “war within themselves never goes away.” This constant internal struggle, combined with substance abuse, makes it easy for some of these veterans’ to acquire criminal charges.

These criminal charges are a result of the underlying problem: mental health and drug abuse issues due to military service. Signs of this often include: drinking or drug problems, feelings of hopelessness, shame or despair, employment problems, relationship problems (including divorce and violence) and various physical symptoms. The Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) in our county was created to help veterans’ with their mental health and drug abuse problems so that they have better tools to help themselves and to not be involved with legal trouble.

What is VTC?

The VTC is a voluntary program that includes regular court appearances before the Judge. Treatment includes weekly individual and/or group counseling, drug and alcohol testing, mental health treatment, and/or regular attendance at recovery support/self-help meetings. It’s possible to be provided with referrals for vocational training, education and/or job placement services. The program length will be a minimum of 15 months, maximum 18 months. Ongoing aftercare services is available to all graduates.

Entry into VTC is voluntary and will require veterans’ to admit guilt. They will be placed on probation for a deferred prosecution or in the pretrial release program. Supervision will include random drug and alcohol testing and unannounced home visits, during which both the veteran and their place of residence are subject to search. The VTC defense counsel will continue to represent the veteran throughout their participation in VTC. There is an initial 30-day “assessment period” in which the veteran may withdraw admission and request prosecution of their case, or during which an eligibility or suitability issue may arise which may disqualify them. Successful completion and graduation from the program may result in having the charges dismissed or significantly reduced and termination of probation. Failure or discharge from the program will result in prosecution for the veterans’ original charges.


Veterans will be required to appear in court for progress reviews. The Judge will be provided information prepared by the VTC Coordinator with input from all other agencies, regarding the veterans’ performance in the program. If the veteran is doing well, he/she will be encouraged to continue with the program, and to work with their treatment team toward success. If the veteran is not doing well, the Judge will discuss this with you and your treatment team, and further action will be determined. With repeated violations or the failure to progress satisfactorily, the court may discharge the veteran from the program.

Program Rules

  1. Attend all ordered treatment
  2. Report to your Probation Officer or Pretrial Supervising Officer as directed
  3. Submit to drug and alcohol testing
  4. Be on time to all appointments including court appearances
  5. Fraternization between participants is prohibited

Treatment Procedures

The treatment team will assess what level of treatment will best meet the veterans’ needs and recommend to the Judge that he/she receives either outpatient or residential treatment. If the veteran is admitted to a residential treatment program, his/her treatment plan will include the requirements of that program. Upon release from a residential program, the veteran will continue his/her participation in the program as directed by the Court and treatment team. If the veteran is not admitted into a residential treatment program, he/she will participate in a multi-component, outpatient program developed through the VA, which includes developing a treatment plan, drug testing , counseling, recovery support services, recovery support/self-help meetings, and working with the veteran’s mentor. If the veteran is not eligible for VA services, he/she will be served by a community Mental Health/Substance Abuse provider.

Drug Testing

The veteran will be tested for drug and alcohol use at random times throughout the entire treatment process. During Phase 1, the veteran may be tested a minimum of two times weekly additionally he/sh may be required to wear an alcohol monitoring device. Treatment phases will be discussed more later. However, as you progress through the phases of the program, the veteran may be tested less frequently. The Judge and the team will have access may be tested less frequently. The Judge and the team will have access to all drug tests results, including any failures to test, and may order a drug test at any time. Relapses may occur in recovery. However, a positive, diluted or missed test will result in a court-imposed sanction. Tampering with any drug test will be deemed a positive test  and may result in program termination. The Judge will review the veteran’s overall performance in the program. Repeated offenses may result in progressively severe sanctions.


Substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling is composed of two separate formats: individual and group. As part of the veterans’ treatment plan, he/she will be required to participate in both types of counseling if it is appropriate. Together they are designed to develop self-awareness, self-discipline, and coping mechanisms necessary to maintain the veteran’s sobriety. The veteran may be required to attend additional treatment such as individual or group treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The veteran may be required to attend counseling or other treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), anger management, parenting, or any other therapy the treatment team recognizes as necessary for the veteran’s well-being. The veteran attendance at both individual and group counseling sessions will be reported to the Judge as part of the veteran’s progress report. The veteran must have permission from his/her counselor to be excused from any counseling sessions.

Mentorship Program

The veteran will be assigned a volunteer veteran mentor from the community to support his/her efforts to create a better life. The veteran must meet with his/her mentor at regular intervals.

Recovery Support/Self-Help Meetings

The veteran may be required to attend recovery support/self-help meetings. The frequency of required attendance is determined by his/her progress in the program and his/her phase level. Attendance is an important part of the recovery process. The meetings will familiarize the veteran with the recovery support/self-help philosophy, and help the veteran to create social bonds with other recovering addicts. The veterans’ treatment team will provide him/her with information regarding the time and location of these meetings and will also direct the veteran to special interest and recovery events in his/her community. The veteran must provide proof of attendance to his/her health care counselor, Probation Officer and VTC Coordinator prior to each court appearance. The program requires the veteran to have a sponsor and work the steps of his/her program.

Treatment Phases

The VTC is a five-phase, highly-structured program, lasting for a minimum of 15 months and maximum of 18 months. Individual progress will vary. Each phase consists of specified treatment objectives and specific requirements for advancement into the next phase. Requirements for advancement from each phase are described below.

The assessment/selection period is a thirty-day period during which the veteran will decide if the VTC is right for them. At the same time, the VTC team will evaluate the veterans’ appropriateness for the program. During this period, the veteran will actively participate in the program. The Judge may extend this window if deemed necessary. Phase 1 includes the assessment/evaluation period. The veteran is subject to all VTC, VA, treatment providers, and Pretrial Release and Probation rules during this period. If the rules are violated, the veteran is subject to sanctions.

Phase 1-Treatment Plan Development

In Phase 1 the veteran will be assigned a VA Justice Outreach Specialist as well as a community Mental Health/Substance Abuse counselor, a probation officer and a mentor. The veteran will be assessed by the treatment team and their progress will be closely monitored and reported to the Judge. Requirements include the following:

  • Participate in full assessment in order to determine treatment needs. Course of treatment is individualized according to needs of the veteran.
  • Participate in all forms of treatment as directed by the treatment team.
  • Comply with additional case management services as determined by the treatment team.
  • May be drug and alcohol tested two times per week. Breathalyzer and immediate result drug tests may be used at the VTC team’d discretion, as well as a continuous alcohol monitoring device.
  • Take non-narcotic medication as directed by medical and mental health professionals.
  • Attend a minimum of two recovery support/self-help meetings per week and actively seek a recovery support/self-help sponsor
  • Participate in clean and sober recreation.
  • Attend twice monthly court appearances as determined by the Judge.
  • Curfew is set at the discretion of the team.
  • GPS monitoring for the initial 60 days.

Phase 2 – Ongoing Treatment

In Phase 2 the veterans’ treatment plan will be updated to identify ongoing treatment goals. Counseling and meeting will focus on areas that are challenging for you, and will identify ways of coping with stressful situations. Phase 2 requirements include the following:

  • Participate in all forms of treatment as directed by the treatment team.
  • Comply with additional case management services as determined by the treatment team.
  • Drug and alcohol test as directed. Breathalyzer and immediate result drug tests may be used at the treatment team’s discretion, as well as continuous alcohol monitoring.
  • Take non-narcotic medication as directed by medical and mental health professionals.
  • Attend a minimum of two recovery support/self-help meetings per week, maintenance of a recovery support/self-help sponsor.
  • Report to the VA Justice Outreach Specialist or community Mental Health/Substance Abuse program, pretrial or probation officer as instructed.
  • Participate in clean and sober recreation.
  • Maintain employment or engage in productive use of time such as community service and school attendance.
  • Formulate personal goals in conjunction with the treatment team such as vocational/educational counseling, psychotherapy, exercise, anger management and parenting goals.
  • Attend twice monthly court appearances as determined by the Judge.
  • Curfew is set at the discretion of the team, if required.

    Phase 3 – Stabilization/Mentoring

In Phase 3 the veteran will address ongoing recovery needs. The focus will be on daily living skills. This phase is designed to support you as a productive and responsible member of our community. Phase 3 requirements include the following:

  • Participate in all forms of treatment as directed by the treatment team.
  • Attend other treatment services as determined to be necessary by the treatment team.
  • Drug and alcohol test as directed breathalyzer and immediate result drug tests used at the team’s discretion.
  • Take non-narcotic medication as directed by medical and mental health professionals.
  • Attend a minimum of at least two recovery support/self-help meetings per week and maintenance of a recovery support/self-help sponsor.
  • Report to the VA Justice Outreach Specialist or Carolina Outreach Therapist along with the Pretrial and/or Probation Officer as directed.
  • Participate in clean and sober recreation.
  • Maintain full-time employment and/or progress toward an educational goal.
  • Participate in community service as determined by the team.
  • Attend court as determined by the Judge.
  • Curfew (if required) is set at the discretion of the team.

Phase 4 – Achievement/Graduation

In Phase 4 the veteran will transition from the VTC structure to a lifestyle more representative of what you will experience following graduation. Phase 4 requirements include the following:

  • Participate in all forms of treatment as directed/instructed by the treatment team and attend individual counseling sessions to complete an exit plan.
  • Attend other treatment services deemed necessary by the treatment team
  • Take non-narcotic medication as directed by medical/mental health professional
  • Attend recovery support/self-help meetings as determined by the treatment team.
  • Report to VA Justice Ourtreach Specialist or Carolina Ourteach Counselor and the Pretrial and/or Probation Officer as directed.
  • Participate in clean and sober recreation
  • Maintain full-time employment and/or progress toward a vocational/educational goal.
  • Continue established mentoring relationship.
  • Become a mentor to a new VTC participant pending approval of the veteran’s treatment team after a minimum of six months post-graduation.
  • Attend court as directed by the Judge.
  • Prepare a graduation speech.


Once the veteran has successfully completed the criteria for each Phase, he/she will advance to the next level and eventually be a candidate to graduate from the VTC. The veteran will submit a graduation speech to his/her VTC Coordinator in which he/she will discuss his/her progress towards the goals he/she initially set, and why he/she believes he/she is ready to graduate. The final decision regarding advancement from each phase and graduation is determined solely by the Judge, assisted by input from the team. At graduation, the veteran may be given the opportunity to plea to a charge reduction or his/her case may be dismissed. The veteran’s family will be invited to join the veteran as the Judge congratulates him/her.


A candidate for the VTC program does not have to be diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, or other injuries to be accepted into the program. The only requirement is to be a veteran of the armed services. That said, the program has helped veterans that previously thought they had no service-related injuries receive disability benefits from the VA.

The VTC program is designed to help the veteran live in our community as a productive and responsible citizen. The Judge, the Court staff and the treatment team will guide and assist the veteran, but the final responsibility is the veterans’. He/She must be committed to change.

If you were a part of veteran court in your area, please let me know below if you are following a similar plan. If different, please let me know how it is different.

Thank you.