Combat Disabled Veteran Opens Distillery

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By Debbie Gregory.

Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery was founded by former Marine Travis Barnes and his wife Hilary, with the goal of making his venue a one-of-a-kind destination in downtown Indianapolis.

The name “Hotel Tango” reflects Barnes’s military roots. Using the NATO phonetic alphabet, Hilary and Travis have their first letters of their name expressed by “Hotel” and “Tango” respectively—thus the Distillery’s name.

After serving three combat tours with 1st Battalion Recon Marines from 2003-2006, Barnes was disabled during his last deployment to Iraq.

Barnes went to law school with intentions of becoming a lawyer but, instead he met a group of fellow law students who are now a fundamental part of Hotel Tango and its existence.

Over Christmas break of his 3rd year of law school, Barnes took an interest in spirit distillation. He also took an interest in Indiana’s liquor laws and noticed an opportunity too good to pass up. He built his first still out of a turkey fryer. People enjoyed the end result, and an entrepreneur was born.

Hotel Tango opened its doors on September 15th, 2014. In addition to his tasting room and distillery, Barnes and his partners, wife Hilary, Brian Willsey, Nabeela Virjee, and Adam Willfond acquired Hotel Tango Farms, in order to grow the ingredients for their spirits. There is also the opportunity to stay at the farm’s Airbnb.

Not only is Hotel Tango the first craft distillery in Indy, it’s the first service-disabled combat-veteran owned distillery in the country.

Hotel Tango has locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Texas, but expansion plans are in the works.

The lessons Barnes learned in the Marine Corps have served him well in his business venture.

Apps for Veteran Business Owners

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By Debbie Gregory.

Making and sticking to a realistic budget is an effective way to help keep your business profitable. Budgets involve making revenue forecasts and estimating your costs, which will determine whether you make a profit or loss.

In this day and age, where there seems to be an app for most things, here are some apps to help you navigate your business finances:

Albert is your financial genius – a smart and powerful financial assistant. Albert connects to all of your accounts and helps you put your financial plan on auto-pilot. The app provides a team of human financial geniuses to guide you through your financial journey and answer your most complex questions.

Clarity displays your financial picture, helps you cancel wasteful accounts, and delivers insights to you. The built-in service scans your accounts for subscription fees and verifies your usage of the service or product. It also has tools to remind you to pay bills, budget, and save.

Fudget is a simple and fast alternative to feature-rich, complex budget planner / personal finance apps. There are no categories to manage, no charts to interpret and no learning curve.

If you share expenses with another person, Honeyfi allows you to choose what to share with your partner and see all of your balances and transactions in one place. You save time when you simplify your finances.

Mint keeps all of your bills and money together in one place, making it easier than ever to track.The more accounts, cards and bills you link, the more the app will help you stay on budget. See what you have and what you owe. Understand where money goes and where you can cut back. Create budgets, track investments, discover new ways to save and more.

Wally lets you take control of your money. Balance your income and expenses. Understand where your money goes. Set and achieve your financial goals. Seamlessly and intuitively. The app gives you a 360 view on your money; what comes in, what goes out, what you have saved, what you have budgeted.

You Need a Budget helps you to be mindful of how you are spending your money, asking you to think about what you want your money to do before you spend it.

By Debbie Gregory.

Bethesda, Maryland based defense giant Lockheed Martin Corporation has secured a contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype of the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. It is hoped that the hypersonic cruise missile will be able to travel at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound. That means a hypersonic weapon can travel about one mile per second.

If the hypersonic conventional strike weapon is successful, it could result in a $928 million payday for the defense contractor over the course of the project’s lifetime. No end date has been set for the new contract.

“Both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities,” said General John Hytens, the head of U.S. Strategic Command. “We’ve watched them test those capabilities.”

Lockheed Martin will be responsible for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

The development will take place in the northern Alabama city of Huntsville, which is dubbed the “Rocket City” as it was the birthplace of America’s rocket program.

The Pentagon’s research and development chief, Michael Griffin, has called hypersonic technology the Defense Department’s first priority.

“In my opinion, today the most significant advance by our adversaries has been the Chinese development of what is now today a pretty mature system for conventional prompt strike at multi-thousand-kilometer ranges,” he said.

A second hypersonic project being pursued by the Air Force is the Tactical Boost Glide system,  which is a boost glide craft  accelerated to high speed by a rocket before gliding unpowered to its destination.

Both projects are part of a program to develop advanced prototypes that can later be fielded on U.S. jets.

VA Project Could be Derailed by Trump Pal

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By Debbie Gregory.

The VA’s $16 billion health information technology project has hit a major snag, thanks to a West Palm Beach, Florida internist who runs in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago social circle.

Former VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced the VA’s intent to transition its legacy EHR, VistA, to Cerner last year.

Internist Bruce Moskowitz has been an outspoken critic of Cerner’s software, causing him to object to using the company for the massive transformation of the VA’s digital records system.

The involvement of Moskowitz and his crony, Marvel Entertainment chairman and Trump confidant Ike Perlmutter, highlights the participation of Trump’s social circle in government decisions.

Dr. Moskowitz has been weighing in on the 10-year project, much to the distain of many clinicians involved in the effort.

Despite the delays, on April 25th, a VA spokesperson said that finalizing the Cerner-VA contract was a priority for Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“Under Acting Secretary Wilkie’s leadership, senior VA officials are now on the same page, speaking with one voice to veterans, employees and outside stakeholders, such as Congress and veterans service organizations, and are focused on a number of key priorities in the short term,” said Curt Cashour, VA press secretary.

Although VA Secretary David Shulkin was fired by President Trump in late March, his goal was for the VA to create a single common EHR system with the Department of Defense using a shared Cerner Millennium EHR platform.

Despite its leadership vacancies, such as acting CIO Scott Blackburn resigning and VA secretary nominee Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson withdrawing, the VA insists that finalizing a decision on the agency’s electronic health record modernization is a near-term priority.

By Debbie Gregory.

During a March 6th House Armed Services Committee hearing, lawmakers interrogated Marine Corps officials regarding a $150 million deal with Heckler & Koch to provide the service branch with some 50,000 HK416 rifles. This works out to approximately $3,000 each, almost five times the cost of the current M4, which cost $642 per rifle in 2013.

Called into question, besides the cost, was the Corp’s sidestepping of the normal acquisition process: the contract was sourced to foreign manufacturer Heckler & Koch without allowing American firearms companies to compete for the contract.

Although the longer rifle barrel and gas piston operating system gives the Heckler & Koch rifle an edge over the M4, it doesn’t seem like that justifies the higher price tag.

To be fair, when the Marine Corps purchased the M4’s, FN Herstal aggressively underbid both Remington and Colt, resulting in the deeply discounted price per weapon.

In questioning Lt. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault, deputy commandant of Plans, Policies, and Operations, HASC Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson asked, “Do you believe that it is the best option to not compete a contract that could be as many as 50,814 rifles?”

When FN Herstal lodged a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the issue of the Marine Corps not allowing competition to yield the best product for the lowest price, the GAO rejected that protest, claiming an exception in which “the supplies or services required by an agency are available from only one responsible source, and no other type of supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.”

Here’s where the waters get a little murky. Those requirements would be determined by Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons Systems, and would likely involve Marine Systems Command (MARSYSCOM) supervisory lead engineer Sal Fanelli. Interestingly, before joining MARSYSCOM, Fanelli previously worked for Heckler & Koch.