RICHMOND HILL, GA – APRIL 11, 2022 – American Veteran Properties recently welcomed new agent Phillip Smith to its team of seasoned real estate professionals. Like AVP’s other agents and staffers, Smith’s military connection makes him a great fit for the agency.

Before becoming a realtor, Smith was a U.S. Army soldier whose last duty station was Fort Stewart in Hinesville. He and his family are no strangers to moving, having relocated four times over the course of his military career when Smith was assigned to posts in Tennessee, California, Hawaii and, finally, in Coastal Georgia. Given his decades of service, Smith is very familiar with the ways in which VA benefits – such as Basic Housing Allowance and VA loans – can be successfully utilized to maximize returns. He’s ready to put his knowledge in both sectors to work for AVP’s clients and looks forward to continuing to serve the community.

“Rest assured, as your realtor, I will strive to ensure you not only have a fulfilling experience, but I’ll also help educate you on your military benefits so you can make the best possible decisions. This is the way for me to continue my service and dedication to the military,” Smith said. “I have all the resources to help ease families into their new community. I also have the knowledge and resources to help you as a service member, past or present, utilize your military benefits when buying your home. I look forward to helping our clients find their next home! We’ve got you covered.”

AVP owner and CEO Eric Lukkarinen was a soldier himself in the U.S. Army until 2001. After completing his service, he was a Realtor for 20 years, amassing sales experience with a concentration in buyer and seller residential transactions. Like Smith, Lukkarinen loved serving his country, but always had an eye on the future and an entrepreneurial inclination, which drove him to officially launch AVP last year. 

With his team, Lukkarinen teaches military veterans how to take advantage of their benefits to make their families comfortable while building upward mobility and growing their personal wealth. It’s an extremely important concept that, if utilized correctly, can greatly improve a service member’s quality of life and set them up for a nice life following their exit from the military, according to Lukkarinen.

“We’re really happy to have Phil on board with us at American Veteran Properties. As brothers in service, I know that we share the same values and work ethic. I’m confident Phil will work hard to ensure his clients have wonderful experiences when buying, selling, and renting homes with our company, and I know he prioritizes the care and preservation of families, just like the rest of my team,” Lukkarinen said.

American Veteran Properties offers the highest quality advice and support for military members to make the best decision for themselves and their families, in addition to helping military members enjoy homeownership while building and growing personal wealth. For more information, please visit, call 912-385-3000, email or visit them on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.


For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


I finally did it! I returned to the land of my birth after nearly three long years. To make my trip even more wonderful, I was able to attend the wedding of my beloved cousin in the beautiful English countryside at a wonderful country house hotel.   Before the pandemic I was lucky enough to go back every year after relocating to beautiful Coastal Georgia in 2009.

I wondered what differences I would notice after not only such a long absence but also since the scourge of the pandemic.  It did seem somewhat different, but the question was had England changed, or had I?  Probably a bit of both.  

For starters, I had obviously forgotten about the weather – it was literally freezing for some of the time with snow and hail and grey clouds dominating the heavy skies.  To be fair, there were by British standards some warmer days in the 50s and low 60s when sunshine raised everyone’s spirits and the extensive spring displays of daffodils looked beautiful.  I had forgotten how green and pretty the countryside can be.  Of course, this is because of all the rain!

It also felt a bit odd to have a similar accent to everyone else. So instead of people asking where I was from, it was my American husband’s turn for that particular question and the good natured conversations about places and travel that usually follow.

The density of population seemed surprising to me, especially in London and SouthEast England, where I used to live.  The UK has approximately 68 million people living in the UK on just under 94,000 square miles, so 723people per square mile.  In the USA with a population of 330 million people living on 3.8 million square miles which means just 87 people per square mile.  So, the population density of the UK is over 8 times higher!  The UK is about the size of Georgia plus half of Florida.  See www.worldatlas.comfor more.  

The UK is not set up for cars as most of the towns and cities were builtcenturies before the automobile was invented, so there are too many people fighting for too little space – and parking spaces!  Traffic is heavy practically everywhere and all the time.  Outside of the car and as a result of this overcrowding, everybody apologizes all the time as we often bump into each other on the sidewalk.

I really noticed these changes over the past three years:

Contactless payments. The UK adopted the chip and pin paymentslong before they became popular in the USA and now, they have moved onto contactless payments which are completely touch-free up.  This is of course becoming more common in the US but seems universal in England.


Just like in beautiful Coastal Georgia, there is a lot of building going on. The difference is that instead of new subdivisions on newly cleared land, most of the building in the UK is really just fitting in more small apartments or townhouses into already overcrowded towns and housing developments.  Lots of “brownfield” development on top of old industrial sites.


The price of gas (which the British call ‘petrol’).  In Coastal Georgia we are all complaining about paying around $4 a gallon.  It is generally more than double in the UK! This is mainly because the British government charge 60% tax on top of the cost of the rising price of the oil itself. A fill up cost us about $150 during our travels!


Drivethrus are expanding outside town centers.  Last time I was here it was really just a few American branded fast food restaurants which offered drivethrus, and they were thought to be pretty exotic in many parts of the UK.  Now there are drive-thru coffee shops and pharmacies and more. Drive-thru banking  has not made it to the UK yet there are rumors that these could arrive next year, with major banks in talks to replace local branches with high-tech virtual banks with video tellers. Once introduced, customers will be able to open a bank account, ask for an overdraft, or even apply for a mortgage from the comfort of their own vehicle (visit for more information).

I think that my biggest revelation was that while I will always love the UK,Coastal Georgia is now solidly my home and I do feel like I belong here – in spite of my accent!

Having said all that, it was fantastic to reconnect with friends and family after so long, indulge in favorite British food and reconnect with the land of my birth.  I say goodbye this week with a quote from the English 19thcentury poet Robert Browning “Oh, to be in England now that April’s there.”

God Bless America!


Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at


SAVANNAH, GA – April 4, 2022 – The Salvation Army of Savannah (TSA) has announced their new 2022 Summer Camp Program, “The Greatest Summer Camp Adventure,” from May 31 – July 29 hosted at the Community Center, 3000 Bee Rd, Savannah. This experience will give local children in the greater Savannah community a chance to have a fun summer in a safe and structured environment with enriching recreational activities and art projects. 

The “Greatest Summer Camp Adventure” will give children access to the newly renovated gym and playground at the Community Center so they can play games and sports, but also participate in art projects and reading activities in the classrooms. The camp will also offer educational classes to allow students to practice their skills for the upcoming school semester. These activities connect back to The Salvation Army’s mission of “Doing the Most Good” in the community and staying true to their values of honesty, respect, collaboration, compassion, and integrity. 

The camp is hosted by TSA’s educational assistants and summer camp counselors who undergo extensive training, including a CPR/First Aid class. The organization has COVID-19 protocols in place in accordance with the guidance and recommendations of public health officials such as temperature checks, handwashing, and social distancing in certain settings.  

“We are so excited to be hosting this year’s summer camp adventure at our newly renovated Community Center! The kids are going to love the new gym where they can play basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and just have fun. They can even play on our baseball fields to get some nice fresh air,” said The Salvation Army of Savannah’s Major Paul Egan. “Our summer camp program is designed to enhance children’s lives while they are out of school so they can continue learning and growing but have fun and make new friends and memories at the same time. Our professional counselors and assistants are trained to be able to support and look after the children during their time at camp. We look forward to hosting local children this summer for an exciting adventure!”

The one-time registration fee is $50 along with the $75 per week participation fee. Children do not have to sign up every week to join the camp. Fees include breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day with healthy food options provided by TSA’s kitchen staff. To register, please contact or call 912-352-7584.

TSA has served greater Savannah for the past 122 years. For more information about The Salvation Army Savannah, please visit or call 912-200-3004 and follow the organization via social media. 

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For media inquiries and interviews, please contact Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100 or Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457. 

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood