Actor Adam Driver Models the Marine Creed

LinkedIn

By Brady Rhoades

Actor Adam Driver learned valuable lessons as a Marine. Time is precious; it’s remarkable what you can accomplish in one day. Self-sacrifice. Moral courage. Teamwork.

What he didn’t discover in the military is his artistic side, a side that has propelled him to roles in “Star Wars, The Force Awakens,” “Lincoln” and “J. Edgar,” among others. In life-or-death situations, the quality you most desire in a comrade is not artistry. It’s their commitment, their competence, their courage.

But what happens when a warrior goes back to civilian life?

What Driver discovered is that, for veterans, especially those suffering from traumatic injuries, civilian life can turn into a life-or-death situation, as well.

Enter the arts.

“Self-expression is just as valuable a tool as a rifle on your shoulder,” Driver said.

That’s why Driver, who’s working on a movie with Sylvester Stallone about a veteran of the Afghanistan War who’s a quadruple amputee, has created Arts in the Armed Forces.

Arts in the Armed Forces performs theater for all branches of the military at U.S. installations domestically and around the world. The core program consists of published contemporary American plays and monologues presented by theater-trained professional actors and actresses. They choose plays that feature diverse themes, ages, ethnicities and experiences to create a complex and unique experience for audiences.

After each of the group’s performances, the actors interact with the audience via a question and answer session as well as a more informal mingling period.

The goal is not simply to provide an enjoyable evening, but to use the shared experience of live theater to open up conversations capable of bridging the divides between military and civilian, service member and family member, the world of the arts and the world of practical action.

Photo Credit: ABC/Randy Holmes

Adam Driver was not born to privilege.

The young man from San Bernardino, California, has worked for—and earned—everything he’s gotten.

He rose to prominence in the supporting role of Adam Sackler in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls (2012–2017), for which he received three consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He made his Broadway debut in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. In 2011, he returned to Broadway in Man and Boy and made his feature film debut in J. Edgar.

Driver has appeared in supporting roles in a wide range of films, including Lincoln, Frances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis. He starred in While We’re Young and won the Volpi Cup for his role in Hungry Hearts, as well as several best actor awards for his performance in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson.

Photo Credit: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

Driver gained worldwide attention and acclaim for playing the villain Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.

Like many of his generation, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks left Driver saddened, outraged, and wanting to defend his country.

He was 18; he joined the Marines.

“September 11 happened and all my friends were like, ‘Let’s join the military’, and I was the only one who actually did,” he said.

Driver adapted to Marine Corps culture. The Marines provided structure and a sense of unity he had not experienced. Driver trained hard, and looked forward to deploying with his friends.

But Driver injured his sternum in a mountain biking accident before deploying. He attempted to overcome his debilitated state by training harder than before, but after two years of service with no time in the field, he was medically discharged.

The discharge depressed Driver, but it was time to readjust to civilian life.

He never forgot his comrades, however.

Or the lessons he learned.

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Peoria, AZ

“You miss the rigor, the discipline, the camaraderie … I think you become very aware, probably more than average people your age, that we’re all going to die. You’re aware of your own mortality, and also of how much you can accomplish in a day. Time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it.”

When he returned to the United States, he attended Juilliard and studied drama. He graduated in 2009 and began acting in Broadway and off-Broadway plays while toiling at odd jobs to pay bills.

He soon made inroads into cinema, and the rest is history.

What’s next for Driver?

He’s reportedly signed onto a movie with Sly—Sylvester Stallone. It’s a true story of an Afghanistan veteran who is a quadruple amputee. Sgt. Travis Mills’ recovery after losing all his limbs to an improvised explosive device is the subject of a best-selling memoir titled, As Tough as They Come, and the movie.

Driver reportedly will play the 82nd Airborne soldier, while Stallone will direct and play Mills’ father-in-law.

Meantime, Driver continues to give back to military families.

Most recently, he was a willing messenger for the Folds of Honor Foundation.

Cue to a Budweiser commercial that has captured the nation’s attention—Budweiser works with Folds to provide scholarship money to military families—and Driver trucking through a rural area, no buildings anywhere, but plenty of road and trees, to visit Hayley Grace Williams, daughter of veteran John.

Hayley is finishing her schooling to become a nurse. She is inspired to serve by her father, an Army veteran who severely injured his back in a training exercise. In 1990, Williams watched his unit deploy to Operation Desert Storm from a hospital bed. He has two steel rods and six screws fusing his spine; his mind is another story.

“He feels as though he wasn’t there for his buddies when they needed him,” said Hayley.

He works as a bus driver, part-time. He can’t work full time because he’s in too much pain. And the family can’t pay the tens of thousands of dollars for Hayley to finish nursing school.

That’s where Folds of Honor, Budweiser, Driver and the commercial come in. Driver parks at the Williams’ home in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, and delivers the news: Hayley got a scholarship.

Driver comes face to face with John, and says, “I felt so guilty that I didn’t get to finish my service.”

Says John: “You’re probably the first person that ever understood, truly understands.”

Hayley doesn’t have to worry about the costs of school. Before you know it, she’ll be a nurse.

“This means everything,” she says.

The family—and Driver—cry tears of joy.

It’s All About Service: 4 Tips for Finding the Right Entrepreneurial Fit

LinkedIn
man in army service attire standing in front of U.S. flag

By Matt Noe

A commonality among veterans is the entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated through the discipline and skillset that comes with being in the military. These skills include determination, relationship-building, being process-oriented and having a passion for service, which can be easily be transferred into establishing and running a business.

When deciding what to do next after making the ultimate decision of returning home and departing from my active role in the military, I knew I had to be selective and had a laundry list of considerations to keep in mind. I relied heavily on my experience and skills to help find the best fit. Through a lot of my research, it became clear that franchising was the right route for me, and ultimately stumbled upon a drug testing franchise, Fastest Labs, which checked every box I was personally looking to fulfill in this venture.

While the transition back into a more traditional career after being in the military for over 4 years can be an adjustment, I want to share a handful of tips for recent veterans who are vetting opportunities and looking to take that next step, all of which served as a guiding light through this new, riveting venture.

Ask how you can give back to your community
When looking for the perfect business, there are a lot of options to consider, especially in franchising. Ranging from gyms, security companies, manufacturing businesses to restaurant concepts — the options can often be overwhelming at first. When in the first phases of narrowing down your options, I always kept my experiences in the military and deep-rooted appreciation for serving others. This was an aspect of my history with the military, I knew I had to carry into my new business — whatever it may be. Finding what motivates you can help in finding a business that provides a valuable, unique service to the community. One thing that drew me to Fastest Labs was how much it felt like a family. That support system and how well the business is run was a huge driving factor in why I decided to open a Fastest Labs in 2020. Local businesses play an integral role in one’s community, and asking how you can help support it is critical. It is important to look for values in not only the offerings of the concept, but the overall business model, reflect your own. These values play a major role in how you will be supported, which trickles down to the impact you will have on your community.

Search for an industry you have a baseline understanding of
Tapping into your past experience can assist you when considering your next industry for work. There is definitely room to grow and learn, but jumping head first into business ownership can be eased if you understand — or have some level of personal experience — with the industry, even if it’s from the consumer perspective. Coming from a military background, routine and surprise drug tests were part of the equation. When opening up a Fastest Labs, there was a comfort in having knowledge of how the business worked as well as a motivation to learn as much about the industry as possible. Look for an industry that you find interesting and build off of that in your search.

Focus on the skills required not the tasks you’ll complete
When starting a business, the lists of tasks can be intimidating. There were various classes and certifications that were needed before opening up Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. not to mention learning and instilling the best practices behind running a successful company. I knew that my military training and experiences — such as delegation, multitasking and problem-solving — would provide an impactful foundation for running and growing a successful business. When you’re looking for a next step in your career, try to not get hung up on the technical tasks required, rather, focus on the skills needed to be successful, and you’ll see the boxes being checked off naturally.

Have the hard discussions early
Money can be a sensitive topic, and it can be hard to factor it into the conversation when your heart is already sold on an idea, which is why your realistic budget should be top-of-mind from the very beginning. It is also important to do your research, because costs can differ depending on what franchises you are considering — think about every aspect of the business and what will be required for you to invest. Knowing that entrepreneurship was on the table, my fiancé and I began to save while I was still overseas, which allowed us to open our business in record time (six weeks) and hit the ground running, even amid the pandemic. Taking financials into consideration is key, and making a plan on how to spend and save early will surely be a pillar in your success story.

About the Author
Matt Noe is the Owner and Operator of Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. Noe started his career in the military and served multiple tours overseas with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as the 10th Mountain Division. After the military, Noe served as a government contractor. Noe greatly enjoyed serving his country but had dreams to pursue entrepreneurship. While oversees, Noe searched for the perfect franchisee opportunity for him and was drawn to the family-like atmosphere that he found in Fastest Labs. Noe opened the Columbus, Ga. location in 2020 and manages and operates the business with his fiancé, Rebecca.

The Motorcycle Club Helping Wounded Veterans

LinkedIn
The back of an American Infidels motorcycle club member jacket displayed on man in group of other riders greeting each other in a room

By Kellie Speed

What started out with two US Marine veterans in Massachusetts looking for a way to help fellow veterans has turned into a federally recognized war veteran organization with numerous nationwide charters.

“The motorcycle club culture was founded on veterans so we were only trying to get back to our roots,” said James Crosby, who co-founded the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club with Matt Nelson. “We have been able to give people that have lost their way purpose in life and that purpose being in the community and watching out for the people that they care about whether it’s people in the club or their family.

We constructed the Club based on three major points of people’s lives – family, work and club. Those are the three major things that you need to be fully invested in in your life. If you are going to be in the Club, you’re going to need to be able to give the same type of effort to all of these. We were just trying to take the approach that we care and we were able to create this environment that people want.”

Whether the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is organizing nationwide runs for fallen warrior brothers like Mike “Wildman” Kennedy, Rob “Tinkle” Richards and Stephen “Jackel” Jackel, their mission is simple – honor the many freedoms we enjoy, which are “a direct result of the bloodshed on the battlefield by the warriors that have come before us.”

“When I was in Iraq, this was something I had talked about with one of my buddies, Staff Sgt. William Callahan, who unfortunately ended up dying, so he’s part of this story,” Crosby said. “With the American Infidels, Matt and my goal was to create something – a purpose for people, for a portion of the population that signed up to do more for others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. What we do with the Club is we teach people how to get involved in their community and take care of each other. Semper Fi, always faithful – you don’t know what it truly means until you get out. You have no idea what you just signed up for because you just joined the biggest group of families. We are empowering people to stand up, have a voice and work with each other and that’s just what we have done with the Club.”

The Club provides numerous undertakings on behalf of our nation’s veterans. “Each charter must accomplish the mission to stay in the organization or they will be removed,” Nelson added. “Some do free hunting trips, motorcycle runs and benefits that give directly to wounded vets or other vets causes, suicide prevention, career help through our network of friends, politicians and advocates, legal help, navigating healthcare available to vets, and on the day-to-day, we are supporting each other and fellow vets through the hard times of life. That’s probably the most underrated yet most beneficial. Getting people to socialize and help network before the real hard times come upon someone.”

Nelson worked to have the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle American Infidels motorcycle club members on a ride with several riding together in row Club become federally recognized. “Due to our membership criteria, we decided to file officially and follow the federal regulations in regards to 501c19 War Veterans’ Organizations,” he said. “There are two types of 501c19 veterans’ organizations – war veterans’ and veterans’ organizations. We keep 90 percent war time veterans and 10 percent “other,” which includes non-war time veterans and patriots. To put it in a common analogy, we are a step above the American Legion because the Legion is a veteran’s organization, not a war veteran’s organization. Being the latter, we are able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to our organization without the need for a secondary 501c3 regular type charity with more specific guidelines.

It’s a lot of red tape that we’ve done on our own and have recently contracted out to professionals. My proudest moment as one of the founders is when the brothers accomplish a mission. No matter how small. Especially when it’s helping a brother or sister vet in crisis. It’s not easy and it’s urgent so the ability for our network to react is extremely rewarding. Sadly, sometimes we hear of things too late or we just can’t affect the situation in a positive way. Those are the hardest and most discouraging moments. It’s a double-edged sword. Secondarily, when there are great social events and you can see the crowd and brothers having a great time.”

Why Veterans Are Great Assets in Construction

LinkedIn
construction hard hat, glove and level pictured with us flag

By Natalie Rodgers

The experience veterans have gained are widely transferable to a variety of fields, but one of the greatest post-service jobs that a veteran can pursue is in the construction field.

Here are five reasons why veterans should consider the construction field and recruiters should be hiring them:

Veterans are Disciplined

To ensure the safety and integrity of any building project, construction workers need to be strict in the areas of precision while following a firm guideline. Military veterans are no stranger to heavy consequences and are specifically trained to follow orders and complete tasks under dire stress or pressure. Their ability to follow through with precision allows for construction projects to be done properly first time without error.

Veterans Have the Skillset

No matter how they served, all veterans are trained to lead, have quick problem-solving skills and stay organized in both appearance and circumstance. These attributes are important in any job field, but especially in one such as construction where the unexpected is to be expected. Many veterans were also trained in specialized fields such as computers, technology, specialized tools and equipment – all important skills in the construction industry.

Construction Provides a Smooth Transition

Along with the many similarities between the world of construction and military service, the construction industry’s communal aspect allows for a smooth transition for veterans. Not only will past military personnel be able to connect to the teamwork and comradery in this field, but they will also meet numerous other veterans already in the industry who understand the struggles of transitioning.

Veterans Know Teamwork

In every branch of the military, people from all races, genders, cultures, backgrounds and experiences come together to work for a greater cause. Veterans understand better than anyone the importance of putting aside differences to work as a team to complete a task. The world of construction is almost entirely collaborative and relies on the same need for communication and teamwork. This makes veterans more likely to have a smooth integration in their work environment and less likely to face issues in miscommunication.

Veterans are Quick to Learn

Unexpected changes and redirection are common in the construction industry. The sudden need to shift gears to adapt to a new game plan can be jarring for many people, but veterans are well equipped to handle changing plans. The strict, fast-paced nature of the military trains veterans to pick up on new tasks quickly and to problem-solve and think on their feet.

Whether you are a veteran looking for the next step in your career or an employer looking for the most qualified candidates for your team, veterans are equipped with the proper tools to make any construction project a success.

For more information on veterans in the construction industry, check out the following websites:

Veterans Build America: veteransbuilamerica.org

CareerOneStop’s occupation profiles: https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Learn/career-profiles.aspx

 

Small Business Loans & Grants for Disabled Veterans

LinkedIn
two business people shaking hand during meeting

According to recent statistics, there are almost 17.5 million veterans in the United States. Of these veterans, 4 million of them are suffering from a service-related injury with disability ratings ranging from 10% and above. Meanwhile, there are 13 million who have received disability ratings for non-service-related injuries.

This means the majority of them are suffering from one form of disability or another. That’s why it’s really not surprising, and incredibly critical, that there are a lot of small business loans and grants for disabled veterans in the U.S., especially for those who are thinking of starting a business.

Here are some of them:

Small Business Association Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
This is one of the most popular programs that the Small Business Association (or SBA) offers, and for good reason. It offers a low-down payment and more flexible payment options. SBA also offers a counterpart of this loan program for non-veterans, but they will not be able to enjoy the discounted rates and other privileges provided to veterans.

StreetShares Foundation
StreetShares Foundation is an organization that was specifically established to help veteran business owners. They have various loans and financing programs. In fact, they even award grants to veterans who qualify for their reward opportunities annually.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program
This is technically not a loan or financing program; however, it will still prove to your advantage to apply for it. This government program seeks to assist veteran-owned small businesses by doing business with them in the form of government contracts.

All you need to do is to get your business registered through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (or OSDBU). This will add your startup to their roster of small businesses to call upon if they found themselves in need of the products and services that you offer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants
The best thing we love about grants is that you won’t have to repay them anymore. You are not getting this money for free, though. You will be required to follow the terms of the money provided. Not to mention that it can be quite difficult to get approved given the number of applicants each year. va.gov

The Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab and Employment Ownership Track
Here’s a program that is specifically designed for veterans with disabilities. In fact, you must have a disability that serves as an employment barrier in order to qualify for it. We highly recommend this program, especially for those who have a high disability rating.

Small Business Administration Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
This is closely similar to the OSDBU program wherein qualified businesses will be granted an opportunity to qualify for contracts that can, in turn, reap revenue. The only difference, though, is that these contracts will not strictly come from the government. https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/veteran-assistance-programs#section-header-0

Increasing Your Chances
The programs we have listed above are definitely not the only ones that are available out there. There are a lot of government offices, organizations and even companies that offer financing aid to disabled veterans. The ones that we have featured above are simply the most popular choices, and thus, more easily accessible. However, please feel free to research your options further.

In the meantime, allow us to share with you tips on how to increase your chances of qualifying for any program that you wish:

• Always check the eligibility requirements. Don’t waste your time getting the paperwork ready and waiting for a response. Make sure that you are eligible from the get-go by verifying your eligibility.
• Take care of your business credit history. Most of you are probably researching loans and grants to start your business. This doesn’t mean that existing business owners won’t qualify for these programs anymore. Quite the contrary, it is easier for a small business with an excellent business credit history to get accepted to these programs.
• Stay organized. There is a lot of paperwork required for any loan or grant application. Those with existing businesses already are typically required to present business and personal tax returns for at least the past three years. Other requirements may also include financial statements, business certificates and business plans, among other important documents.
• Find out your exact need. Finally, you should determine where you are going to use your loan or grant money and how much before even thinking of applying to a program. In this way, you will be able to make sure that the program you’re applying for and its benefits will be enough for your needs. It will also come in handy during interviews.
We hope that you have found our information helpful in finding the program that your small business requires to take flight. It is the least we can do in exchange for the service you have provided. Good luck!

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in OpenCashAdvance.com.

Five Things I Wish Service Members Knew Ahead of Their Civilian Transition

LinkedIn

By Lawren Bradberry, MBA

I remember how confident and prepared I felt when I transitioned from active duty service. But as soon as I put away my uniform, it hit me: I needed help navigating the difficult and oft-talked-about transition to civilian life. Connecting with other Veterans and Veteran service organizations helped me navigate life after military service. So much so, in fact, it motivated me to focus my career on transitioning service members and Veterans.
Unfortunately, many Veterans I wound up working with struggled to adjust to civilian life more than they expected. Many struggled to find their way, unaware of the many resources available to help them find their way after military service.
Each day, more than 500 service members will start their transition. To them and the thousands more who will eventually make the very same transition, I offer five pieces of proactive advice from my own personal experience:

1. Make the most of your education benefits and career training opportunities.
Veterans can use their education benefits to pay for training programs, so you should be sure to look into ways to maximize what you’re getting out of benefits. Keep in mind, however, that not all programs are covered in the same way, and not every program includes the same type of training or extra resources to aid you throughout your process. Since 2009, 773,000 Veterans and their family members have utilized these funds for programs ranging from technology to entrepreneurship to foreign affairs and so many more, so do your homework and research your options before making a decision.

2. Remember that every transition story is different.
While there are certainly some commonalities, no Veteran goes through their transition in the same way – each person has their own strengths and faces their own unique challenges. There is no right way to execute your transition and there’s no need to rush, so take all the time you need to adjust and find your new routine. One thing that took me a while, as silly as it might seem to some, was figuring out what to wear! I wore a uniform every single day for years, so I never even stopped to consider the endless options of what I could wear to work as a civilian, and what message that might communicate.

3. Take pride in what you bring to the table.
By the time you reach the end of your commitment, you may have led teams into life-or-death situations, made high-level decisions, or managed millions of dollars in equipment. Even though you may be starting your career later than your civilian peers, your experiences are unmatched in comparison. Learn to tell your story with confidence in a way that demonstrates the skills and experiences you gained in the military, and how they translate to future opportunities.

4. Keep your personal values in mind.
Just like the different branches of the military, every organization has its own unique culture. As you search for employment, take the time to learn about the mission and values of the organizations you’re interested in. Veterans often return home with a very specific set of core values and ideals, and it’s hard enough to make the transition to a different industry with its own cultural norms, so make sure your future workplace stands for values and ethics that align with your own.

5. Connect with your community and peers.
If you need help, ask! The process can be long, confusing and intimidating, but it’s important to know that there are people and organizations out there who want to help and have dedicated their own post-service careers to doing so. Just be careful to keep in mind what I mentioned earlier and to not measure yourself against others – everyone’s experience is different.

By doing each of these five things, I am confident that as service members work to close one door – at their own pace, of course – they will simultaneously open another full of security, opportunity and continued success.

Lawren Bradberry, MBA is a retired Army NCO and the Senior Manager of Military Programs at Galvanize, the nation’s leading provider of software engineering and data science training. More than 700 active-duty military and Veterans have used Galvanize training to get post-military tech jobs. For more information, visit Galvanize.com.

Three Ways Veterans Can Hone Their Skills After Service

LinkedIn
woodworking students move large piece of lumber on to skillsaw

By Kurt Ballash, owner of Ballash Woodworks
Military veterans are a special talent pool because we learn valuable skills that set us apart from other candidates in the workforce.

During the pandemic, the veteran unemployment rate has hovered around 5%, but there are boundless opportunities, programs and outreach groups that can help veterans hone their skills, find a job or identify an upskilling program that is best for them.

Fayetteville, N.C., which is home to the largest U.S. Army base and Army Special Operations Command, has more than 7,000 veterans entering the workforce each year. One area of opportunity for employment across the country is skilled trade jobs. A recent study found that nearly 400,000 skilled trade jobs had posted from the pandemic’s onset in March 2020 through February 2021. As veterans consider this pathway after service, they should leverage workshops, apprenticeship programs and military-friendly programs at local colleges and universities to identify the trade that is right for them.

Participate in a Workshop

Studies have shown that creative hobbies, such as woodworking, can be an effective avenue to help veterans cope with the battle scars associated with years of combat service and to help overcome PTSD. A creative workshop is also a great starting point in identifying your strengths because it’s a short-term commitment; it’s inexpensive, and it’s a fun way to learn something new.

These are a few of the reasons why I started hosting workshops at Ballash Woodworks. We’re a Fayetteville-based small business that specializes in handcrafted wood furniture, and we’ve also become a place for veterans and their families to come together for support and healing. Our workshops teach the art of woodworking, which brings veterans together through a shared trade.

Consider an Apprenticeship Program

While workshops are a great way to test the waters with new skills, apprenticeship programs take this a step further. Companies partner with workforce development organizations and education institutions to create structured programs that provide jobs to trainees as they perfect their skills over a 3- or 4-year time frame. Glassdoor says that 91% of apprentices are hired full-time at the end of their programs.

ApprenticeshipNC is busier than ever during the pandemic, as military personnel are pursuing 91E Allied Trade Specialist certifications. With this certification, apprentices can master the art of welding, machining, carpentry or one of hundreds of other trades. In North Carolina, the average program pays about $36,100 annually. The Department of Labor also approved a woodwork manufacturing specialist apprenticeship program, so industry apprentices who complete the program can receive a national, industry-recognized credential as a registered woodwork manufacturing specialist.

Ask Your Local Colleges About Their Military Programs

One of the reasons why veterans stay in Fayetteville after service is because of the access we have to military-friendly education programs and support networks with our neighbors and veterans. Victory, a media company that connects the military community to civilian employment, releases an annual ranking of the country’s most military-friendly education institutions based on factors such as student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, loan default rates and persistence to advanced degrees. It ranked Fayetteville Technical Community College in the Top 10. Have a look at programs near you. You might qualify for scholarships and have access to resources that help ease the transition from military life to campus life.

Transitioning out of the military can be a tough road, but finding a new career that will bring you joy doesn’t have to be. Opportunities at local colleges and the experts behind apprenticeship programs can help guide the way to your next path and arm you with the training needed to get there.

Woodworking is in the Ballash blood. As a child, Kurt spent afternoons in the shop where his father and grandfather crafted custom cabinets, and Kurt developed an unspoken love for the process of turning lumber into one-of-a-kind creations. When Kurt returned to Fayetteville, N.C. after serving his country, he decided to share his love for woodworking with the community by opening up Ballash Woodworks. Veteran entrepreneurs are strong contributors to the growing Cumberland County workforce, and he immediately felt a kinship to the other veterans in the region by sharing his passion with others.

ballashwoodworks.com

Remembering America’s Military Heroes this Memorial Day with Ancestry

LinkedIn
Ancestry

This Memorial Day weekend, visit Ancestry® to find those in your family who served our nation and who lived through these remarkable chapters in history. Share your stories on Instagram with #ISaluteFor and tag @Ancestry.

To help everyone find stories to share, from May 28-31 Ancestry is offering free access to:

  • Search more than 550 million military records on Fold3®, covering military conflicts as early as the Revolutionary War.
  •  
  • Personalized stories on Ancestry.com using its StoryScout™ tool which quickly sifts through millions of records and can curate stories about your ancestors to help you make meaningful discoveries with no research needed.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Memorial Day as a federal holiday, Ancestry partnered with Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Combined Arms, and Jewish War Veterans to create a “50 Story Salute,” a joint tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom.

The tribute on Ancestry’s social channels is a curated montage of military heroes through time highlighting powerful stories of strength and hope.

Photo Credit: Ancestry

Help Heal Veterans Hosts #VigilforValor to Honor Military Lost to War and Suicide

LinkedIn
Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets) will host a month-long virtual candlelight vigil in May to honor service members who have fallen in battle and military members who served honorably in war and fell victim to suicide later due to the invisible scars of combat.

Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit that provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to veterans and active duty military who are suffering from the physical, psychological and emotional wounds of war, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

#VigilforValor kicks off May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness month, and concludes on May 31, Memorial Day. The United States has suffered more than 100,000 military casualties of war since 1950, and in the last 10 years we’ve lost more than 65,000 veterans to suicide.

“Our hope is to shine a light on the remarkable lives of those who have been lost,” said Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Often times we honor the war dead as a group and not as individuals. This year, we want to give people an opportunity to learn about the remarkable lives represented by people who have paid the ultimate price for this country.”

Participants in #VigilforValor will:

1. Create a candleholder, either of their own design or one made from a kit provided by Help Heal Veterans for a $20 donation. (Note: a large number of candle kits will be provided free of charge to select veterans/active-duty service members).
2. Customize the candleholder for the individual they wish to honor with a photograph, drawing, patch or other item. Those who don’t have someone in particular they wish to remember are encouraged to reach out in their community, school, church or search local news to find someone to honor.
3. Light a candle and share a picture of it along with their story on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #VigilforValor so we may pay tribute to them together.

For 50 years, Help Heal Veterans has been using craft therapy to help veterans and active-duty military heal the invisible wounds of war.

“We have seen first-hand the healing power of crafting,” said McClain, “and it has been especially important over the past year, when isolation placed an extra burden on recovering veterans and military and the usual sources of support were not always available or accessible.”

Studies show that crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits, including improving fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, memory and dexterity, and can help alleviate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs.

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organization’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit HealVets.org.

Veterans who are in a crisis and need support can go to https://www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

About Help Heal Veterans
First established in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. These craft kits help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health. Most of these kits are developed, manufactured and packaged for delivery at our production center headquartered in Winchester, California. Since inception, Help Heal Veterans has delivered nearly 31 million of these arts and crafts kits to veterans and veteran facilities nationwide, along with active duty military overseas.

Veterans Boost America’s Energy Workforce

LinkedIn

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

LinkedIn
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).

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Lumen

Lumen

Penn State 2021

PENN STATE WORLD CAMPUS

Leidos Video

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Verizon

Verizon Wireless