Military veterans take command of their future with a business education

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The transition from active duty to civilian life can be filled with countless roadblocks, and many veterans find it challenging to secure a career that fulfills their needs and ambitions, which often result in periods of joblessness and uncertainty.

While the U.S. Department of Labor reports veteran unemployment reached a 10-year low of 3.4 percent, underemployment continues to plague many veterans. In fact, a Career Builder study shows 22 percent of veterans are underpaid, or underworked.

The military provides endless learning opportunities that veterans can bring into a civilian career profession. Although there is no distinct path, higher education can be a vehicle for these veterans to take command of their future. For three veterans, this transition led them to Washington University in St. Louis to learn how their unique skills can be an asset in the board room.

SECURING A SECOND CHANCE
Staff Sgt. Eric Maddox joined the United States Army infantry in the spring of 1994, and eventually found himself playing a key role on the elite Delta Force team as an Army interrogator. His job was simple: gain intel from Iraqi prisoners on where to locate Saddam Hussein. In fact, the team was successful due, in part, to Maddox reshaping the U.S interrogation system, which had only a four percent success rate at the time. Rather than intimidation, he focused the new techniques on collaboration, communication and negotiation.

Maddox later found a new way to integrate these same techniques into the business world. After graduating from Washington University’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program in 2016, he combined his educational and military experiences to become a motivational and keynote speaker. He now tailors his speeches to emerging business trends he mastered in the classroom, and travels around the nation teaching negotiations, elicitations and empathy-based learning to business leaders.

“The EMBA program really dives into how business works, and helped me to identify connections between the military and corporate world,” said Maddox. “I quickly realized how my experience in the intel world and war zone can directly apply to businesses and private organizations.”

Another 2016 Washington University graduate, Col. Don Halpin, served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. Until 2014, Halpin held a variety of elite positions such as Director of Safety, Commander, Vice Commander, Chief, Political-Military Affairs Officer and Initial Planning Coordinator. He also co-developed the Air Force-leading Aviation Operational Risk Assessment & Management System (Ops RAMS) for the Air Mobility Command, which included the Air Force’s first-ever incorporation of select civilian aviation industry benchmark programs.

After two decades of military success, Halpin decided it was time to pursue his other passion – healthcare innovation. He credits the EMBA program with providing him the tools he needed to turn his love for innovation and helping others into a vibrant career in the healthcare industry. He’s now the Healthcare Systems Engineer at Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center in Peoria, IL, where he supports their innovation, education and research efforts.

“In the military, you’re always looking for ways to become more efficient to provide the highest level of service to your country,” said Halpin. “In healthcare, it’s a similar situation. I love that I’m able to aid in bettering the lives of our patients, and the EMBA played a large part in that.”

A third veteran and Washington University alum, Harry Schmidt, was one of the U.S. Naval Academy’s finest recruits. Following graduation, Schmidt became a Navy pilot flying F/A-18 Hornets. He was selected to attend the prestigious Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) in San Diego, CA and later returned as an instructor. He spent the next 20 years as a professional military officer, serving in various leadership roles in operations, maintenance, and logistics – achieving the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and major in the U.S. Air Force. After 20 years of service to our country, Schmidt chose to continue serving his community as a leader in the healthcare industry.

“The EMBA program provided the perfect forum to tie together and finish off the leadership, strategic thinking, and management skills I developed through my years of experience in the military. I would highly recommend the Wash U program to others as an avenue to learn the art and language of business and advance your career to the next level,” said Schmidt.

Today Schmidt leverages the business skills and expertise he learned in the EMBA program as President and CEO of Passavant Area Hospital in Springfield, IL.

Drawing upon their time in the EMBA program, all three veterans were able to merge their military backgrounds to seek new, and diverse experiences. While many veterans have not been as fortunate, Maddox, Halpin and Schmidt tell their story so that future generations can avoid the cycle of unemployment and underemployment that many experience when transitioning into civilian life.

Veterans Boost America’s Energy Workforce

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By Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy

When their service ends, our veterans should be able to count on a healthy economy with ample job opportunities in the wide variety of fields for which they are suited.

The energy sector of our economy is one for which veterans are well-prepared by their military service. There are jobs ranging from oil and gas drilling and powerline work to ensuring security at our nuclear energy sites and installing renewable energy systems. Both the public and private sectors see the value of hiring veterans and are taking strides to assist with their transition to civilian life.

A well-educated, prepared workforce – one that also includes highly-skilled veterans – is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in scientific discovery and innovation. And the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cannot carry out our mission for energy, environment, and national security without such a workforce.

An example of an outstanding public sector program is Solar Ready Vets, launched as a pilot by DOE in 2014 to connect our nation’s skilled veterans to the industry by preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales reps, system inspectors, and other solar jobs. After graduating 526 students in 10 states, the program, which was enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, was expanded into the Solar Ready Vets Network, a group of relevant workforce development programs to connect veterans and transitioning military service members with careers in the sector.

On the private side, one program I got to learn about firsthand is a collaboration between

Duke Energy and Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) in North Carolina. As part of Duke’s Veteran Hiring Initiative, FTCC runs a training program to help veterans gain the training to become skilled electrical linemen and eventually enter the workforce. During a visit to Fayetteville, I watched a lineman training demonstration and met with several program participants. Each was eager to continue serving his or her community by doing this critical work.

The Department of Energy is committed to supporting and empowering American workers, especially servicemembers separating from active duty. We are proud to employ more than 4,600 veterans, and the number continues to grow. In 2020, one in every three new DOE hires has been a veteran, and we consistently receive “exemplary” ratings from the Interagency Council on Veterans Employment for hiring and retaining veterans.

We are committed to ensuring veterans continue to play a key role in our Nation’s energy workforce to secure a safe, prosperous future for our country.

Veterans and transitioning service members can find more information about our STEM workforce programs on energy.gov.

Source: Energy.gov

MedTechVets Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2021 MedTechVets Academy: Opportunity for Veterans to Gain and Practice Professional Skills

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young male laboratory technician operating computerized equipment

MedTechVets, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies, recently announced enrollment for its spring 2021 MedTechVets Academy program for transitioning active-duty service members and veterans.

This Academy is for military veterans who are within six months of your separation, or an honorably discharged and is a free virtual 6-week program supporting career transition to the device, biotech, and life services industries.

Veterans will have the opportunity to improve their professional skills and job prospects by participating in personal branding workshops, mock interviews, and learning networking do’s and don’ts, which are available through the 2021 MedTech Vets Academy. Participants will be selected via online applications and will also receive editing assistance on their resumes and cover letters, support from mentors to identify industry gaps that apply to their unique skill set, and resources that help them identify those job opportunities. Additionally, the academy will teach skills, knowledge, and confidence to set attendees up for workforce success.

The deadline to apply to the 2021 MedTechVets Academy is 5:00pm PT on Friday, April 2nd— and the program is slated to begin on April 6, 2021. NOTE: The applications of those not selected for the spring 2021 Academy cohort will be saved for the summer program and supported through that process.

Please visit https://medtechvets.org/academy/ to apply and learn more.

About MedTechVets
MedTechVets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies. MedTechVets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans.

MedTechVets is endorsed by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed).

Announcing the 2021 VetsinTech Invasion National Conference – All-Star Lineup With More Than 30 Top Tech Companies

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Young soldier in military wear keeping arms crossed and smiling

VetsinTech, the leading national non-profit dedicated to advancing career opportunities for veterans in the tech industry, announced its “VetsinTech Invasion 2021” national conference. 

Scheduled to take place April 17th and 18th, VetsinTech’s Invasion 2021 assembles more than 30 of the top tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. In its fourth year, hundreds of veterans and their spouses from all over the country will participate in a one-of-a-kind gathering that brings together leading tech giants and veterans to provide networking opportunities in education, employment, and entrepreneurship in tech.

Luminary keynote speakers at the VetsinTech’s Invasion 2021 include:

  • The Honorable Denis Richard McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who President Biden appointed in February 2021. He also served as Chief of Staff under former President Obama.
  • Michèle Flournoy, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors. Previously, Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under the Obama administration. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
  • Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. Steve developed the customer development methodology that spawned the Lean Startup movement.
  • Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, VetsinTech Board member and a leading advocate for veterans and military families.

Sponsors of the VetsinTech Invasion 2021 include Disney, Elastic, Google, Wounded Warrior Project, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Nasdaq, Tibco, and Uber.

Meeting the DEI Challenge with Military Veterans

VetsinTech provides an unmatched national technology ecosystem supported by innovative programs in employment, education and entrepreneurship. With diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a top concern in Silicon Valley and across the country, companies recognize that veterans are an untapped source of highly skilled talent who can help them meet the hiring challenge.

“This year’s conference is truly groundbreaking with a large number of leading tech companies, phenomenal keynotes, and industry speakers that we’ve lined up to support our exceptionally qualified veterans. This ‘show of force’ demonstrates a strong commitment by the VetsinTech Employer Coalition to meet DEI goals while also filling the critical gap in technology talent,” said Katherine Webster, Founder and CEO of VetsinTech.

At the VetsinTech Invasion 2021, veterans will get to hear and communicate virtually with executives from Silicon Valley’s most successful technology companies, venture capital firms, recruiters and HR, and engineers who will lead workshops, speak in panels and participate in networking events. Veterans and their spouses can meet and mingle with VetsinTech’s world-class coalition partners, which can be found here.

About VetsInTech

Based in San Francisco, with more than 50,000 vets strong and 20 chapters across the country, VetsInTech is the leading national non-profit devoted 100% to springboarding veterans into tech careers. VetsinTech harnesses the national technology ecosystem to benefit veterans returning from active military duty and who want to apply their exceptional training, skills, and experience to a new technology career. Comprising technology industry leaders and former service members, VetsinTech is the only non-profit supporting our veterans through tech-based programs and opportunities in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. For more information, interested parties can visit www.vetsintech.co.

Careers for Junior Military Officers through Orion Talent

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Former military officer in his office wearing a suit with a blurred image of a US flag in the background

Free Career Placement Services for Transitioning Junior Military Officers

Are you a First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain or Lieutenant preparing for your transition from Active Duty? Discover Orion Talent, the nation’s most trusted career partner to Junior Military Officers making the transition into Corporate America. Orion will help you with your transition into the civilian workforce by matching your skills and career goals with opportunities within America’s finest companies.

Orion is proud to work with world-leading companies who are committed to hiring top military talent. These companies realize the value that Veterans bring to the workforce and continually seek to add transitioning and former military service members to their ranks. Orion is the exclusive provider of Military Talent to many of our client companies, allowing you access to job opportunities that you otherwise would not have. Visit our Featured Employers page to learn more about the companies and some of the opportunities available for JMOs.

Visit Orion Talent today!
https://www.oriontalent.com/military-job-seekers/junior-military-officers/

Veteran Brings No. 1 Home Inspection Franchise to Hometown

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Lori and Dave Starnes closeup wearing blue work uniform

Sometimes you find a business opportunity that fits like a glove. That seems to be the case for Dave and Lori Starnes. The couple recently moved back home to the Adams/Clarksville, TN area from Hawaii and recently launched operations as new franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection franchise in North America.

Team Starnes Home Inspectors, LLC will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout Clarksville, as well as Hopkinsville, KY, and surrounding areas.

Dave retired from the United States Army after 26 years and had been a high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor in Hawaii. He also ran his own handyman/general contracting business, while Lori was an operations/ property manager for 100 luxury vacation rental properties, in addition to running her own cleaning business. If it’s something related to homes, the couple has a pretty good handle on things, so becoming franchisees with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors was a natural fit. “Dave had been a handyman and general contractor for more than five years and worked directly with realtors in fixing and repairing many of the deficiencies discovered during the home inspection process,” Lori said. “He had a knack for finding and fixing those issues and we decided to join Pillar To Post Home Inspectors in order to provide professional home inspection services for current and future homebuyers throughout Clarksville and the surrounding areas.”

According to Pillar To Post Home Inspectors President and CEO Dan Steward, “We are rolling out some pretty amazing technologies that are now in full swing for all Pillar To Post Home Inspections. One of these is the PTP360 tour.” PTP360 is an interactive, virtual home inspection tour that allows users to revisit a home anytime and anywhere from a smartphone, tablet or desktop and even share the tour with family and friends. “It’s a great new innovation – fast-tracked to completion because of COVID-19 concerns – and we saw just how well it performed,” Steward said. Clients can also receive a measured FloorPlan of the entire home, with measurements to help with furniture fit and placement. “In the long term, PTP360 is a huge help for busy, professional Realtors, saving them time and better serving their seller, while also giving prospective buyers a far better experience,” Steward said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has achieved the highest standings in various rankings of “Best in Category,” “Top 20 Franchises to Buy,” “Top 10 Global Franchises” and “Top Franchises for Veterans” in addition to achieving 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans. A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

Dave and Lori have two adult children who followed their father’s footsteps into the Army and their son, Russ, will be joining his parents in their business in the near future. In the meantime, Dave and Lori are looking forward to the new year and the newest chapter in their life. “We chose Pillar To Post Home Inspectors because we felt the support and technical advances were superior to other options we considered,” said Lori. “And we were ready to start our own business to secure our financial independence.”

 

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 9 years in a row and appeared in the ranking for 24 years. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

How Do You Ask for a Professional Favor?

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Just because many of us are now working remotely doesn’t mean staying connected becomes any less valuable. In fact, we all might need a little bit more human connection these days.

When you’re alone with yourself (as most of us have been recently), it’s easy to see the value of community and why building a professional network is important. No one can think of everything, and a strong professional network can bring new ideas to the table — along with different perspectives, personal and professional advice, and emotional support.

Once entrepreneurs recognize the value of professional networks and learn how to start networking, the next hurdle is often how to ask for a favor professionally. We all know the feeling: a lump grows in your throat, your tongue suddenly ties, and you can just feel the flop sweats coming on.

Before you tuck your tail and abandon the request altogether, remember that overcoming that fear is essential to benefiting from your professional connections. It’s important to build mutually beneficial relationships with your network to help one another fuel your successes.

Finding the right words to ask for a favor isn’t always easy. Even as an experienced entrepreneur, I still get nervous from time to time and feel my confidence shaken. But through the years, I’ve found that asking for favors professionally really boils down to four simple rules:

  1. Be Direct

Remember, a lot of people do like to be helpful and appreciate the opportunity to assist others. Instead of assuming your connection won’t want to help you and floundering nervously on small talk to start the conversation, be direct. Just say this: “I was hoping you could help me out.”

Framing it directly and positively from the get-go will lower the risk of seeming like you’re just trying to get something out of your connection. What’s more, getting to the point quickly is much more efficient, and your connection will value your respect for their time.

  1. Be Complimentary

Think about why you are going to this person specifically for a favor. Do you like their ideas? Do they tend to have a unique perspective? Whatever the answer, let your connection know why you’re coming to them. Offering a compliment isn’t just considerate. It’s good etiquette when asking for a favor professionally. Sharing the reasons why this person is essential to whatever it is you’re asking makes it about more than just what they can do for you.

  1. Ask Ahead of Time

If you’re asking someone to go out of their way to help you, the last thing you want to do is rush them. Waiting until the very last minute is likely to make you appear unprepared and disorganized.

Instead, ask for what you need as soon as you know you need it. Having months to deliver a favor is a lot less stressful than having mere days or hours, and you want to make your request as easy as possible to fulfill.

  1. Show Your Gratitude. 

You don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who takes but never gives. Asking for a favor should never feel like you’re trying to pick someone’s pocket. You should always be prepared to reciprocate.

Even if your connection doesn’t ask for a favor directly in return, be on the lookout for ways you can help out. Can you cover them in a meeting when they have a conflict? Can you take anything off their plate when they’re having a busy day? Even simple actions such as bringing them coffee or treating them to lunch can show your gratitude and willingness to help out in the future.

The most successful professional relationships are win-win, and that means both parties benefit from each other. That’s why an essential step in networking is learning how to ask for a favor professionally. Especially for entrepreneurs just starting out, asking your connections for help can pave your path to success. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors from your professional networks — just be sure to demonstrate respect and gratitude when you do.

Source: score.org

Recruiting Hacks to Better Reach Transitioning Military, Veterans

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Black mature businessman working on laptop

By Katie Keller

Accelerating your defense hiring during a pandemic AND in a passive candidate market is a difficult task. With around 200,000 people transitioning out of the military each year, veterans are an obvious talent pool to tap into.

While cleared vet talent is out there, recruiters face tough competition in reaching the right veterans for the right opportunities. The good news is there are tricks you should have up your sleeve to differentiate yourself from the rest of the recruiting competition.

 

6 TACTICS TO REACH A TACTICAL AUDIENCE

Strategy #1: Choose job titles that are common and make sense to transitioning military

I once worked for a contractor that deemed a new position an ‘Intelligence Data Specialist’ and we naturally were receiving applications from candidates who were traditional All Source Analysts who had a little bit of experience in cleaning intelligence data sets – a secondary part of their job. After reading through the requirements from the government, the staffing team realized what they were really looking for was a Data Scientist who has worked with data from intelligence teams.

The title of the role you are looking to fill is not only essential to the job advertisement, but it can make a huge difference in the applications you receive and need to sift through. When deciding on a job title, you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes – what job would they be searching for online and hat would they recognize this job to be called? Use simple titles; so, if you’re seeking an All Source Intelligence Analyst, no need to be fancy. Call it what it is and familiarize yourself with the Military Occupational Specialties you could potentially be pulling candidates from.

Strategy #2: Foster relationships with military advocates or groups in the space

Decades ago, there weren’t nearly the number of networking groups for veterans there are today. These groups are almost always seeking partner organizations to serve as employment options for this audience. These can include Transition Assistance Programs at the military installations close to your customer sites, Hiring Our Heroes, state Department of Veterans Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, USO, regional Chamber of Commerce groups, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and so many more.

Recruiters are selling their company mission, positions, and benefits to candidates, but you should also start to sell these things to empowered voices in this space, so you have other allies advertising how amazing your organization is.

Strategy #3: Keep your website and career pages current

This is a problem that most are guilty of, whether it’s caused by time or forgetfulness for such a simple task: company pages that are outdated or simply state “send resumes to careers@awesomecompany.com. The former shows that you don’t have a dedicated staffing team and the latter could imply that you’re just doing a catch-all for resumes. It is a buyer’s market, so you need to list positions to specific audience to encourage them that you have the very best fit for only them. Working in the defense sector and high-tech may not always go hand-in-hand, but you need to highlight to candidates that you are an innovative contractor in this space. A website is the bare minimum in 2020, and it needs to be a box that is checked.

Ensure your recruitment page is up-to-date with detailed roles, and ensure you have an RSS feed linking to any external or third-party pages listing your jobs. This automates your team’s process and can save so much time.

Transitioning military are seeking confidence boosters when they are moving into the private sector, and a blank careers page certainly won’t give them that.

Strategy #4: Mirror your audience and become a passive recruiter

It’s been this way for some time, but the ball is most of the time in the candidate’s court. And you’ll find that when sourcing from active duty audiences online, some won’t list their ETS date. You’ll be sourcing from 50 candidates, and maybe half of them are not out of the military for another year or two. Do not ‘Bye, Felicia’ these candidates! They have access to a huge pool of potential candidates you can tap into, so be nice, network, keep their information on a pipeline list, and see if they know anyone who matches your requirements now that is ETSing sooner.

Strategy #5: Develop a fellowship program for active military

Active military are looking to dip their toe in the contracting waters 6 months from their out-day. Some positions (deployable, management, etc) might be off-limits, but consider allowing some overhead positions for a fellowship program. While some established contractors and agencies create their own fellowship programs for active military, Hiring Our Heroes offers a program that can do some of the legwork for contractors that are small to mid-sized and may not have the resources.

This can serve as an excellent trial run (and advertisement) for your company and the company culture you can offer.

Strategy #6: Use social media wisely and utilize outlets that make sense

In today’s digital world and more so due to COVID-19, staffing teams are completely operating online and are participating in social media recruiting. While active military and veterans are allowed to engage in online networking, they are encouraged to abide by OPSEC principles on public platforms. When reaching out to this audience, be upfront, transparent, and send additional information like your website, or connect over email.

Simply using traditional recruitment processes and public-facing sites may not be enough. Promote new roles via ClearanceJobs where you can appeal to a much larger (and definitely cleared) audience.

Source: ClearanceJobs

How to Use the Military Tuition Assistance Program

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If you’ve thought about going to college but didn’t know if you could afford it, then the Military Tuition Assistance program may be just the benefit you need.

The program is available to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Component service members. While the decision to pursue a degree may be a difficult one personally, TA can lessen your financial concerns considerably, since it now pays up to 100 percent of tuition expenses for semester hours costing $250 or less.

Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-installation, off-installation or by distance learning. An accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education must accredit the institution. Your service branch pays your tuition directly to the school. Service members need to first check with an education counselor for the specifics involving TA by visiting their local installation education office or by going online to a virtual education center. Tuition assistance may be used for the following programs:

  • Vocational/technical programs
  • Undergraduate programs
  • Graduate program
  • Independent study
  • Distance-learning programs

Eligibility

All four service branches and the U.S. Coast Guard offer financial assistance for voluntary, off-duty education programs in support of service members’ personal and professional goals. The program is open to officers, warrant officers and enlisted active-duty service personnel. In addition, members of the National Guard and Reserve Components may be eligible for TA based on their service eligibility. To be eligible for TA, an enlisted service member must have enough time remaining in service to complete the course for which he or she has applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill a service obligation that runs parallel with – not in addition to – any existing service obligation.

Coverage Amounts and Monetary Limits

The Tuition Assistance Program may fund up to 100 percent of your college tuition and certain fees with the following limits:

  • Not to exceed $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour
  • Not to exceed $4,500 per fiscal year, Oct. 1 through Sept. 30

Tuition Assistance Versus the Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits

While the TA program is offered by the services, the Department of Veterans Affairs administers a variety of education benefit programs. Some of the VA programs, such as the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, can work well with the TA program, as it can supplement fees not covered by TA. In addition, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® funds are available to you after you leave the military. If your service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use this benefit. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit won’t expire. The TA program is a benefit that is available only while you’re in the service.

Tuition Assistance Benefits and Restrictions

Tuition assistance will cover the following expenses:

  • Tuition
  • Course-specific fees, such as laboratory fee or online course fee

NOTE: All fees must directly relate to the specific course enrollment of the service member.

Tuition assistance will not cover the following expenses:

  • Books and course materials
  • Flight training fees
  • Taking the same course twice
  • Continuing education units, or CEUs

Keep in mind that TA will not fund your college courses, and you will have to reimburse any funds already paid, if any of the following situations occur:

  • Leaving the service before the course ends
  • Quitting the course for reasons other than personal illness, military transfer or mission requirements
  • Failing the course

Application Process

Each military branch has its own TA application form and procedures. To find out how to get started, visit your local installation education center, go online to a virtual education center or click on the following links for each service branch:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force

Prior to your course enrollment, you may be required to develop an education plan or complete TA orientation. Keep the following important information in mind when you apply:

  • Military tuition assistance may only be used to pursue degree programs at colleges and universities in the United States that are regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S Department of Education. A quick way to check the accreditation of a school is by visiting the Department of Education.
  • Your service’s education center must approve your military tuition assistance before you enroll in a course.

Top-Up Program

The Top-up program allows funds from the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty or the Post-9/11 GI Bill – to be used for tuition and fees for high-cost courses that are not fully covered by TA funds.

  • To use Top-up, your service branch must approve you for TA. You also must be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty.
  • First apply for TA in accordance with procedures of your service branch. After you have applied for TA, you will need to complete VA Form 22-1990 to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits. The form is available online from the VA. Specify “Top-up” on the application and mail it to one of the education processing offices listed on the form.

Other Supplemental Funding Possibilities

Aside from using the MGIB-AD or Post-9/11 GI Bill for items, such as tuition and fees not covered by TA, there are other funding opportunities available to service members, including the following:

  • Federal and state financial aid. The federal government provides $150 billion per year in grants, work-study programs and federal loans to college students. The aid comes in several forms, including need-based programs, such as Pell grants, subsidized Stafford Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants and federal work/study programs. You can also get low-interest loans through the federal government. Visit Federal Student Aid to find out more or complete an online application for FAFSA at no cost to you.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

Five Tips for Women Veteran Entrepreneurs

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business woman leaning towards table with her hand extended on keyboard interested in an open laptop

By Natalie Rodgers

Transitioning from the military field into a new line of work can be difficult for any veteran, but this problem seems to be especially prevalent for women looking to transition into business ownership.

Veteran Airforce pilots and current business owners, Chassity Jackson and Patricia Frame, recently took part in a CNBC hosted seminar to discuss their best tips for women veterans looking to start their own businesses.

Here are five tips for aspiring women veteran entrepreneurs:

Know Your Industry

Of the millions of small businesses in the United States, it can be difficult to make your work stand out. Study the competition and decide what you would like to bring to the table. What will your company be bringing to the table that is different than everything else? What are the consumers of your product looking for and what are some typical frustrations they come across when they are trying to obtain it? Once you understand how your business fits into the industry, keep up on the latest news with competitors and customers to ensure you are fulfilling industry demands.

Networking is Key

Connect with other business owners, especially ones who are experienced in the field and can help mentor you through this new journey. Attending business conferences and networking events have always been a standard way to make these connections, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these conferences have switched to online platforms for business owners to easily utilize and converse through. LinkedIn is also a great source for networking. Make sure your profile is up to date to seem as presentable and professional as possible to new connections.

Know Your Audience

When a business is first starting out, its crucial to understand who the target audience is for the project. Start off by testing a select number of products to your customers and observe what sells and what doesn’t do as well. As you get to know your clientele, it will be easier to figure out how to best allocate your resources and where to put your money to receive the most profit.

Have the Funds

Once you have a business plan, you want to make sure that your business is going to be properly funded. Though many have used their own source of income to help get their company off the ground, there are a number resources that that veterans can utilize to get started. One of the most well-known ways is through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides low cost loans to veterans, military personnel, and their families.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that veterans will just be given money because of their status–a misconception that has been believed by many current and former military personnel in the past. Raising money through pitching competitions and crowd funding campaigns are other significant ways that you can allocate the proper funds you need for your business.

Be Willing to Change

In the midst of COVID-19, companies are preparing now more than ever for unprecedented circumstances their business may face. Many businesses have closed due to repercussions from the pandemic and you don’t want yours to be one of them. Make sure you have a back-up plan should something drastic happen to your everyday routine. How will you continue to provide your products to customers if a lockdown occurs? Can you utilize the internet to help your customers in times of need?

It’s also critical to make sure that you have a cushion to fall back on should a situation arise. Put some of your profits aside as often as you can to create a money reserve to fall back, just in case.

Source: CNBC

Military Veteran Uses Experience and Corporate Background to Run His New Mobile Business

LinkedIn

The way Jason Colon sees things, his background provided him the perfect combination of skills to become a small business owner.

It all came to fruition this past December when the 46-year-old Rocky Mount resident became a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International of Winterville serves customers throughout East Raleigh, Knightdale, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Greenville and surrounding areas.

Colon spent 21 years in the United States Air Force before retiring from active duty. He didn’t skip a beat, transitioning into a corporate career where he spent almost six combined years in operations working for two global corporations, both providers of technology and manufacturing services worldwide. “I think each of the career paths provided a different set of tools to prepare me for being part of the Floor Coverings International family,” Colon said. “My time in the military prepared me to run process and support people. And my time in Corporate America provided the customer experience education and tools, while also giving me the ability to realize my various skill sets and bring them all together to be a successful small-business owner.”

In Floor Coverings International, Colon found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. For this, Floor Coverings International was given the Innovation Award for Customer Response from Franchise Update Media, the benchmark publication and conference entity that is the Gold Standard of Franchising.

“I wanted to have more control of what happens to my future and Floor Coverings International gives me that opportunity,” Colon said. “When COVID-19 struck, it wiped out the aviation industry and jobs were not plentiful. Getting on board with Floor Coverings International was the best path for me.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA-based Floor Coverings International has been ranked consistently as the No. 1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 142 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3,000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and alongside existing lighting, paint, and furniture. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in 2021.

For franchise information, please visit opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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