Actor Adam Driver Models the Marine Creed

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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.

USO Launches Free Virtual Employment Summit for Active Duty, National Guard, and Families

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Operation Jump-start flyer featuring the guest speaker images

Operation Jump Start is being hosted by the United Service Organizations (USO), supported by the Brian Hamilton Foundation, on September 29 and 30 to bring together military service members and their families to help them prepare for the transition to civilian life following their service to the nation. All active duty, National Guard members, and their families can attend for free by registering here.

As part of this virtual event, active duty service members, National Guard members, and their families are invited to join entrepreneurs, franchise operators, and veterans who have successfully started businesses of their own to learn strategies that will empower them to lay the foundation for a successful next stage in their careers. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend as well.

The two-day event will consist of entrepreneurial showcases, networking forums, and exhibitions from world-renowned companies including Amazon and Biogen, as well as inspiring fireside chats and keynote speeches from athletes and famous entrepreneurs, such as:

  • Justin Kutcher (FOX Sports Announcer): Master of Ceremonies for Operation Jump Start
  • Brian Hamilton (Entrepreneur, TV Star and Philanthropist): Why Entrepreneurship Now
  • Julianne Hough (CEO and Founder of KINRGY, Actress, and Dancer): Energetic Health: The New Wave of Successful Entrepreneurship
  • Hill Harper (Humanitarian, Actor, Best-Selling Author, and Entrepreneur)
  • Jessica Iclisoy (CEO & Founder of California Baby®): How One Mom’s Passion Built a Thriving Business
  • Will Ahmed (Founder and CEO at WHOOP™): Unlock Your Performance

Registration information, sponsorship opportunities, and additional details are available at uso.org/jumpstart.

“Operation Jump Start will help provide our military and their families with the foundation they need to pursue their professional goals,” said Jim Whaley, Regional President, USO Southeast. “Our Armed Forces sacrifice so much to protect our country, and we are proud to be by their side throughout their service to the nation, including as they look to return to the civilian workforce and give back to their communities.”

“Service members are naturally inclined to become entrepreneurs. Starting a business entails significant risks and service members have proven their willingness to take risks over and over again,” stated Brian Hamilton, founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation. “Given all they’ve sacrificed for this country, we are proud to support them in their transition from the military through this Summit and beyond.”

Each year, an estimated 200,000-plus service members transition from the military to civilian life, and more than 650,000 military spouses are constantly transitioning. The USO is dedicated to helping them every step of the way through additional professional development offerings including but not limited to:

  • USO Mentorship Platform: This resource helps connect transitioning service members and military spouses with professionals in their industry of interest and help them navigate meaningful career paths in a rapidly changing world.
  • Pathfinder® Transition Program: USO Transition Specialists work with service members to create an individualized plan focusing on employment, education, financial readiness, mentorship, and increased access to relevant veterans’ benefits in their communities.

Follow the USO on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates and join the conversation using #BetheForce, and #MoreThanThanks on social media.

About the USO:
The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, the support of our corporate partners, and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission and learn more about the USO, please visit USO.org or follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the Brian Hamilton Foundation:

The Brian Hamilton Foundation’s mission is to open the door to entrepreneurship for all Americans by sharing with them the resources necessary to start, run and grow successful businesses. By doing so, the organization works to remove the socioeconomic barriers to freedom and self-determination. To learn more, visit https://brianhamilton.org. or follow Brian Hamilton’s work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @brianhamiltonNC.

Putting Your Military Experience to Work in the Electronics Industry

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By Rob Mortensen, Senior Manager, North American MEGAYSYS Operations at EMD Electronics

The MEGASYS organization at EMD Electronics provides a unique service, as our employees actually work onsite in our customers’ facilities to maintain our delivery systems equipment and safely handle our materials (chemicals and gases) throughout the stages of manufacturing semiconductors.

I recently sat down with Walter Marrable, a Chemical Operations Supervisor on our MEGASYS team in Austin, TX, to learn about how the skills he acquired in the U.S. military translate to his role in our organization.

Marrable served in the United States Navy for six years as a nuclear-trained machinist. “I was responsible for supervising an engine room that directly controlled the maneuverability of aircraft carriers and power generation. Managing the engine room included conducting regular maintenance and repairs. When I left the military, I had over 1000 hours of applied experience in maintenance work.”

Marrable said that what drew him to apply for a position in MEGASYS directly after leaving the military was the technical aspect of the role. He was interested in semiconductor technology and had long-admired our customers and wanted to be a part of the industry. Drawing parallels from his work in the engine room to the fab; he shared that moving materials and regulating pressure temperatures were very similar.

“You still have (material) levels and equipment that operate in a specific way. You need to understand the ins and outs of those systems and why components are designed the way they are, and where they are located and processed. All of that definitely translated over into working in MEGASYS,” Marrable shares. “Once you understand the technical pieces of equipment, it’s easier to learn additional types of equipment in the fab.”

In speaking to Marrable, it’s quite apparent that he brings a high level of discipline to his position and makes safety and quality a priority in his work.

“In the military, just like in here at MEGASYS, we have a chain of command. As a supervisor, I am responsible for developing the team and adhering to strict protocols, procedures. There’s more PPE here at our customer site for good reason, and safety is a top priority,” he says. “Onboarding new team members and continuing education for our tenured employees related to our protocols are essential. Safety is everyone’s job, just like in the military. We can’t ignore potential hazards. We have to know how to take action,” Marrable concludes.

At EMD Electronics, we are committed to hiring U.S. veterans. Marrable’s advice for anyone leaving the military who may be interested in working for us was pretty straightforward. “Like any career, you’re going to get out what you put into it. There’s a lot to learn, and there’s so many opportunities,” he says. “From a technical side of things, MEGASYS is a phenomenal place to be. We have so much exposure to the manufacturing process and working with technical equipment. Not to mention building relationships with the customer and understanding their needs.

“MEGASYS has a variety of work. Whether you decide to pursue operations like me or work on the maintenance team, you have options to expand your skills. You also have the opportunity to explore different shifts and decide which kind works best for you. The operations team works a rotating shift—three on/three off, four on/four off in 12-hour shifts. If you are on the maintenance team, you’ll work Monday to Friday, 9-5. So, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like shift work, apply for the maintenance team,” he suggests.

Marrable noted that opportunities to grow are similar in MEGASYS too. “There’s definitely a runway ahead. Leaders work with you to guide you in the right direction to advance your career. There’s a lot of hands-on learning to build your skill set.”

If you’d like to learn more about joining our team, and working with great people like Marrable, visit our website at emdgroup.com/careers.

Source: EMD Electronics

From Readiness to Revenue: Smart Tips for Military Transition

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By Dr. L.H. Taylor: President/CEO of Veterans Business Partnership

The prospect of becoming a successful entrepreneur is exciting and exhilarating. Becoming your own boss, doing your own thing, taking the risk and enjoying the spoils is where the action is. After all, what could be better than controlling your own destiny?

For veterans and spouses, the journey to entrepreneurship can be equally exciting and at the same time, perplexing and challenging. Transitioning from military readiness to the revenue game could be analogous to aspiring to become a big star in Hollywood. The glitz and glamor; the lights and action; and the excitement of big money can be intoxicating. The vision of the bells and whistles may block their view or fog up the rose-colored glasses through which they view this new paradise. Then comes the reality of it all; not everyone makes it to Hollywood.

One of the most challenging questions regarding entrepreneurship is, “where to begin.” The answer to that question could very well determine success or failure for many transitioning service members and their spouses. Fortunately, there is an answer to that question.

Get a Head Start
First, let me suggest that a two-year head start on career transition is not unthinkable for those who have not done so already. The secret for transition success starts with the local installation Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office. The DoD TAP program has teamed up with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer exceptional entrepreneurship training to transitioning personnel courtesy of twenty-two regional Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) across the country.

Over the course of the suggested two years, a veteran or spouse can take part in the two-day SBA VBOC Boots-to-Business (B2B) training as many times as they desire. Beyond the two-day TAP-VBOC presentation, SBA sponsors a robust array of (free) follow-on training, that includes counseling, and mentoring to jump start these future entrepreneurs. The VBOC offerings under TAP are the place to start the transition journey to entrepreneurship. VBOCs then, will reach out to community partners such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) to assist according to where a client is in their journey.

Military members and their spouses are more than adept at and equipped with the skills and temperament for becoming successful entrepreneurs. The big “however” is that nothing advances the cause of entrepreneurial success more than advance planning. Many of my clients who ultimately succeed are the ones who have researched their ideas and invested sufficient time and energy to do the homework necessary to get their enterprises off the ground. The ones who do not, are generally not as successful, or fail to launch their dreams. VBOCs are designed to help get start-up entrepreneurial initiatives off the ground. For qualified veterans and spouses, their services are free.

Entrepreneurship is an exciting proposition. It is a pathway to self-expression and freedom to control one’s life. On the other hand, entrepreneurship can be extremely demanding, perhaps exhausting, and sometimes disappointing when things fail to go as planned. Entrepreneurship is not just the act of starting a business, or just about being in control of your own destiny. It is not a one-off point in time when you open the doors to your business and start to rake in the money. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle; it demands full-time care and feeding. It transcends every aspect of one’s life. It is a twenty-four-hour, seven-day-per-week proposition. It becomes a living, breathing member of your life.

Before you take the plunge, contact your local VBOC for support. VBOCs work closely with their community counterparts and can help determine when additional support might be needed.

Take a smart tip from a veteran entrepreneur turned VBOC Director, contact your nearest Veterans Business Outreach Center, introduce yourself, share your dream and start your exciting journey toward successful entrepreneurship.

Good luck!

Source: Veterans Business Partnership

From Combat to Cattle: A Retired Army Ranger’s Story

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Patrick Montgomery outdoors standing on large farming vehicle looking over property

By Kellie Speed

Former Army Ranger Patrick Montgomery never could have imagined his business as an online Wagyu beef retailer would become an overnight success for their hot dogs.

When the combat veteran left the military in 2014 and went to the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Animal Science to become a veterinarian, he instead decided to buy a farm. Montgomery is now the owner and founder of KC Cattle Company of Weston, Missouri, which offers melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly marbled, hormone and antibiotic-free Wagyu steaks as well as pasture-raised Berkshire pork and even burgers, brats and hot dogs.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between agriculture and the consumer and the appeal for me was working outside and owning a ranch,” he said. “No one really knew what Wagyu was yet, and I figured I was young so I gave it a shot. One of the biggest things I noticed along the way was there were a ton of protein options for consumers to pick through, but with Wagyu, you can really tell a palatable difference. I wanted people to have a unique eating experience. It has been interesting and fun to see people learn what we are all about.”

A few years ago, Food & Wine gave KC Cattle Company a top nod for its Wagyu hot dog, saying it was “basically like eating a steak in a bun.” Shortly after that article was published, they quickly sold out of every single product on the site. “That was crazy,” Montgomery reflects. “Hot dogs were our worst seller and then the article came out and it was the #1 article on Apple news. We only had about 40 packages of hot dogs in stock when the article came out and they were our worst seller. Over the next few weeks, we sold about 7,500 packages of hot dogs. We used to think we were a Wagyu steak company but now our number one seller is hot dogs [laughs]. Strips and ribeyes are next up in popularity.”

How would Montgomery say his military experience as a member of the Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion helped launch his career? “I think every veteran can speak to the transition out of the military not being an easy one,” he acknowledged. “You have a camaraderie in the military and then you get out into the civilian world and lose that. What’s missing most are those most kindred friendships you made sharing stories of crappy experiences overseas. You feel sort of lost when you come back home.

“It is important to me to make time to speak to people, who reach out to us maybe asking how we got our start or how we got capital or something like that,” he explains. “We like to link folks together and it’s an opportunity for veterans interested in entrepreneurship.”
Since its inception, the veteran-run company has been committed to veterans through employment, mentorship and donations. “Some people don’t want to hire veterans because they think they are broken individuals and can’t do anything after they get out of the military, but I wanted to provide an opportunity just for veterans,” he said.

This year, KC Cattle Company received the FedEx Veteran Business of the Year award for 2021.

“We have been a partner with Fed Ex the last two years and used to solely ship with them because their core values aligned with ours,” he said. “It was great to receive this award. You know you work hard, but it’s kind of cool when you get recognized for it.”

For more information, visit kccattlecompany.com.

The Types of Government Contracts & What You Need to Know

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Black mature businessman working on laptop

When it comes to running your small business, one of the greatest assets you can acquire to help you succeed is a government contract.

The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. It buys all types of products and services — in both large and small quantities — and it’s required by law to consider buying from small businesses.

The government wants to buy from small businesses for several reasons, including:

  • To ensure that large businesses don’t “muscle out” small businesses
  • To gain access to the new ideas that small businesses provide
  • To support small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation
  • To offer opportunities to disadvantaged socio-economic groups

There are a multitude of contracts that can be obtained and further searched into using Sam.gov, but here are a few of the different types of government contracts that could help fund your small business:

Set-aside contracts for small businesses:

To help provide a level playing field for small businesses, the government limits competition for certain contracts to small businesses. Those contracts are called “small business set-asides,” and they help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.

There are two kinds of set-aside contracts: competitive set-asides and sole-source set-asides.

Competitive set-aside contracts:

When at least two small businesses could perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.

Some set-asides are open to any small business, but some are open only to small businesses who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.

Sole-source set-aside contracts:

Most contracts are competitive, but sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. Sole-source contracts are a kind of contract that can be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract. To be considered for a sole-source contract, register your business with the System for Award Management (SAM) and participate in any contracting program you may qualify for.

In some cases, sole-source contracts must be published publicly, and will be marked with an intent to sole source. Potential vendors can still view and bid on these contracts. Once the bidding process begins, the intent to sole-source may be withdrawn.

Contracting Assistance Programs:

The federal government uses special programs to help small businesses win at least at 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars each year. There are different programs for different attributes of a small business, such as:

8 (a) Business Development Program: Small Disadvantaged businesses.

Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: Women-owned businesses

Veteran assistance program: Veteran-owned businesses

HUBZone Program: Historically underutilized businesses

SBA Mentor-Protégé program: Sets up your business with an experienced government contractor

Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program: Provides natural resources and surplus property to small businesses.

Joint Ventures: Allows businesses to team up and acquire government contracts (more info below)

Joint Ventures:

Two or more small businesses may pool their efforts by forming a joint venture to compete for a contract award. A joint venture of multiple small businesses still qualifies for small business set-aside contracts if its documentation meets SBA requirements.

Small businesses that have a mentor-protege relationship through the All-Small Mentor-Protege program can form a joint venture with a mentor (which can be a large business). These joint ventures can compete together for government contracts reserved for small businesses.

A joint venture can also bid on contracts that are set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned, women-owned, or HUBZone businesses, if a member of the joint venture meets SBA requirements to do so.

Resources

If you still have questions or are looking for additional information, visit sam.gov or sba.gov. No matter what your situation is, there are many opportunities available to help your small business succeed.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

3 Tips for Companies to Successfully Attract & Hire Veterans

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By Nicole Paquette

It would be an understatement to say that the process of separating from the military is daunting, a fact that every veteran who has gone through it can probably attest to. After spending years of my life as an active-duty member in the U.S. Coast Guard, within a regimented system with a strict set of guidelines, the concept of working as a civilian was difficult to wrap my head around.

I believe every veteran is responsible for finding their own way through the separation process, because the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) course isn’t sufficient without individual effort. But many veterans struggle when it comes time to find a job, and it would be valuable for employers to understand more about where we are coming from as well as how to appeal to – and accommodate for – veterans during the hiring process.

In many ways, the recruitment and hiring process for veterans is no different than it would be for anyone else. But there are some differences and sensitivities that employers should keep in mind.

Here are my top three tips for employers looking to hire veterans and how to integrate this valuable talent pool into their workforce:

1) Be military friendly and promote accordingly

For employers interested in hiring veterans, the first step is to build your brand towards being an organization that is military and veteran-friendly, such as by including a line in each job posting highlighting that fact. It may also be useful to include the names of the branches to attract veteran applicants, in the listings themselves as well as any social media accounts. A great tool to include would be common hashtags that service members and veterans follow and use themselves. To really align this intention with action, research the most common certifications soldiers acquire and the duties they perform during their career or, even better, consult with a service member or veteran to overcome a massive hurdle in veteran job searches: translating a veteran’s resume.

Communicating the value of their skills and qualifications in a way that matches up with a job posting is more difficult for veterans–especially since the vast majority of hiring managers are civilians. The military relies heavily on acronyms, so the resumes of most veterans are full of them and to the average civilian, many of these acronyms are foreign; this is one of the biggest barriers to veteran hiring. Having someone “in the know” can help clarify how these certifications and duties translate into a particular position or industry is invaluable. Making this extra effort will not only ensure highly qualified candidates are not being filtered out based on a misunderstanding, it will also show a company’s commitment to being military-friendly is more than just marketing.

2) Highlight benefits that appeal to veterans

When veterans separate from the military, they take with them a slew of lifetime benefits: health insurance, education assistance, disability compensation, eligibility for a VA mortgage loan and many, many more. That being said, veterans will be looking for more than just a good health plan and vacation time to make a benefits package appealing. A few of the benefits I’ve found particularly valuable following my transition are health insurance for family members/dependents, dental and vision insurance, and a 401K plan to save for retirement. Despite free and excellent healthcare for veterans, our benefits don’t include health insurance for family members/dependents, dental or vision care.

Another benefit veterans may look for from a future employer is the opportunity to use allocated time off to volunteer. After serving in the military and spending the majority of their career helping others, veterans are more likely to work at companies that allow them to continue to give back to the community. Advertising these benefits, as well as any coordination with nonprofits, charities or other donation-matching programs, is likely to pique the interest of veterans and encourage them to apply.

3) Banish stigmas and stereotypes

Despite the modern world we live in, veterans are still contending with outdated stereotypes and assumptions about who they are and what they want, especially in the professional world. There is a standard misconception of veterans as old, disabled and uninterested in integrating into American society, but these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are, of course, veterans of all ages, many veterans entered the military at 18 or 19, chose to serve for 4 years and are now in their 20s. I personally have a hard time thinking of myself as a veteran, in part because of the stigmas and stereotypes that do not reflect who I am or my experience.

Nikki Paquette headshot
Nicole Paquette, Author

Most of the concerns employers have with regards to veterans can be overcome by education and collaboration. Some veterans come home with PTSD or other psychological conditions, but many civilians struggle with similar issues, as nearly one in five Americans live with a mental illness. Companies looking to hire veterans should focus on what they bring to the table – a strong work ethic and valuable experiences from their time in the military – and less on outdated and misguided assumptions about who veterans are and how they will behave.

Just as in any venture, changing the employment process for veterans isn’t one-sided. Employers who want to incorporate veterans into their workforce should adjust their hiring practices, but veterans are also responsible for committing their time and effort to finding the position and company that are the best fit for their many transferable skills. As our society grows to become even more inclusive, employers can utilize these tips to ensure that the workplaces of the future are welcoming for everyone, veterans included.

Nicole Paquette is the Team Captain of Military Enrollment at MedCerts and a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Small Business Resources for Veterans

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Service members make great contributions and sacrifices on our nation’s behalf. When it’s time for your next mission, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides customized tools and training to support and empower you through every stage of business ownership.

Below we’ve highlighted a few SBA programs for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses:

Entrepreneurial Training
A key first step for transitioning service members, veterans or military spouses interested in business ownership is Boots to Business (B2B). Available on military installations worldwide for service members and their spouses, this course covers the fundamentals of business ownership. Boots to Business: Reboot (B2BR) brings the B2B course off installations and into communities for veterans who may not have access to a military base, along with National Guard and Reserve members, and spouses.

B2B has been a launchpad for many aspiring military and veteran entrepreneurs. For example, after taking the B2B course, U.S. Army veteran Jeremy Boucher and his wife, Dr. Kristen Boucher, were able to turn their brewing hobby into a small business. They now own Split Fin Brewing in Midway, Georgia.

Local Support
SBA resource partners, including Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), offer expert counseling and training to business owners, with help available remotely. VBOCs are highly familiar with the military business community’s values, strengths, and needs, and can connect you with key resources.

One military spouse who worked with her local VBOC to grow her business is Terra Smith, owner of DocTerra Mobile Veterinary Services in Vale, North Carolina. Smith reached out to her local VBOC at Fayetteville State University for help gaining access to capital as she launched her mobile veterinary clinic. The VBOC walked Smith, whose husband is a Marine veteran, through the steps of applying for an SBA-guaranteed loan through a community lender.

Disaster Assistance
The SBA is also here for business owners in the military community when the unexpected happens. Like many small businesses, veteran-owned businesses have been hit hard by the economic impacts of the pandemic. and we’re continuing to offer disaster relief options to help. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), for instance, is an SBA-backed loan that helps small businesses keep their employees on payroll during the pandemic. Borrowers may be eligible for forgiveness. Air Force veteran Tom McMahon, owner of the Washington, D.C. gift shop, Urban Dwell, is just one of the veteran business owners who have kept their businesses afloat with help from the PPP.

The SBA is also offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to provide economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL is available through December 31.

Beyond pandemic relief, the SBA offers several other disaster relief programs, including the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL). If one of your essential employees is a military reservist and that person gets called to active duty, you can apply for MREIDL to help with eligible expenses.

As a member of the military, you’ve served our country. As you transition to entrepreneurship, let us serve you.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Resources for Military Spouses in the Job Search

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Just as military veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our country, so too have their spouses. The Navy and Marine Corps recognize the invaluable contribution of military spouses and welcome their talents and strengths in our civilian workforce.

In the Department of the Navy — and throughout the Federal Government — military spouses have greater opportunities than ever before to be hired as members of the civilian workforce.

In 2009, the President signed an Executive Order that provides a non-competitive appointment authority for hiring certain qualified military spouses, spouses of disabled veterans and un-remarried widows/widowers of veterans.

Spouses of Active-Duty Military When Accompanying on a Change of Duty Status

Spouses accompanying their military sponsor on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move who meet all the following conditions:

  • The sponsor must be serving on active duty for more than 180 consecutive days, must have been issued an order for a PCS and must be authorized for dependent travel as part of the PCS orders.
  • The spouse must have been married to the sponsor on or prior to the date of the service member’s orders authorizing the PCS.
  • The spouse does not have to relocate to the new duty station in order to apply for non-competitive appointments.
  • Spouses who wish to exercise military spouse preference must relocate with the service member.
  • The position must be in the local commuting area of the sponsor’s new duty station.

Military spouses are eligible for Navy and Marine Corps civilian employment opportunities in two ways:

Non-competitive Appointments (E.O. 13473)

To apply for jobs, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse under Executive Order 13473 on the eligibility questionnaire. See also “How to Apply” Tab at the top of the page for Applicant Toolkit information and resources.

Military Spouse Preference (MSP)

To exercise your military spouse preference, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse Preference on the eligibility questionnaire. You will be asked to provide documentation that supports your status as military spouse preference eligible.

Spouses of Retired, Released or Discharged Veterans

There are two eligibility categories of spouses covered:

  1. Spouses of retired active-duty military with a service-connected disability of 100 percent, as documented by a branch of the armed services.
  2. Spouses of active-duty members released or discharged from active duty in the armed forces and have a disability rating of 100 percent, as documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Spouses who meet either category above can apply to any position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Unmarried Widows/Widowers

This eligibility category is for unmarried widows/widowers whose spouses died while serving on active duty in the armed forces. It is not necessary that the active-duty member was killed in combat. The death may have been the result of enemy attack, accident, disease or natural causes.

Unmarried widows/widowers can apply to any position “Open to U.S. Citizen” for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Mothers of Disabled or Deceased Veterans

This eligibility is for mothers who meet one of the below categories:

  1. Mothers of disabled veterans are eligible if your son or daughter was separated with an honorable or general discharge from active duty, including training service in the Reserves or National Guard AND is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected injury or illness.
  2. Mothers of deceased veterans are eligible when your son or daughter died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.

Mothers can apply to any “Open to U.S. Citizen” position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.

Documentation Requirements

Documentation might include:

  • Proof of marriage to the service member;
  • A copy of PCS orders authorizing the spouse to accompany the service member to a new duty location;
  • Proof the service member was released or discharged due to a 100 percent disability;
  • Proof of the service member’s death while on active duty.

Source: Department of the Navy Civilian Human Resources (secnav.navy.mil)

4 Strategies for Rebounding from a Rejection Letter

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Young man with tablet computer checking his e-mail at home

Hunting for a post-military job can sometimes feel like a roller coaster. There are some definite highs in the job search, like spotting the perfect position for you, landing an interview and receiving an offer.

But unfortunately, there are also some lows mixed in – including the dreaded rejection letter.

While it may be disappointing, getting a rejection letter can actually help you in your job search. It offers you an opportunity to learn from the process and improve upon certain areas for the next dream job that crosses your path.

But, while you’re looking for that next opportunity, how can you stay motivated for the next search? While everyone will have their own process, here are our four strategies for rebounding from a rejection letter:

  • Take a minute. There’s no denying it – rejection stings. It’s true in life, love and even work. Before you dive back into the job hunt, take some time to process your disappointment. Talk with friends or fellow service members, go for a walk, meditate, eat a whole bag of chips (okay, maybe not that last one). You might even need more than a minute. It’s okay to take a breather from your job hunt. Though it can be hard to step back when you’re facing the end of your military career, a pause may be the key to landing your first post-military job.
  • Keep perspective. Remember, there’s only so much you can control in a job search. Maybe you were a great candidate, but there was only one open position and a lot of great applicants. “Maintain healthy expectations about the process and don’t lose hope,” said James Marfield, associate director of VA’s National Recruitment Service. “It is not necessarily an indictment on your candidacy – it may just be that the hiring manager had better qualified candidates to choose from.” While it may look from the outside like some people have it easy and catch all the breaks, everyone gets a rejection letter at some point in their career. Transitioning to a post-military career can be an especially big leap, but there are plenty of people who have successfully made the transition. Have faith that you will, too.
  • Look in the rear view mirror. You got as far as an interview, so you know you’re doing a lot of things right. If you’re applying for a federal job like one at VA, you made it through the recruiter and were referred to the hiring manager, which is a big step. Your resume and cover letter are on point, and you’ve completed all the right federal forms to accompany your application. Before you dive back in to your job hunt, take some time to review your interview performance and see if there’s anything you could improve. Do you need to come up with better examples for VA’s performance-based interview format, or did you remember to send a thank you letter after your interview? Each interview is great preparation for the next one, but if you want even more practice, ask a friend or family member to rehearse with you.
  • Move forward. Once the feeling of rejection starts to fade and you’re feeling positive again, jump back in to your search with renewed energy and enthusiasm. As you continue to apply, look for ways you can continue to add to your skills and improve your candidacy for a civilian career, whether that’s through volunteering, additional training or part-time work experiences. Veterans can take advantage of a free year of LinkedIn premium, which includes access to training through LinkedIn Learning. The Department of Defense also offers transition assistance for Veterans, including training, apprenticeships and internships through SkillBridge.

No roller coaster lasts forever – even the job search coaster. While there may be more than one “no” along the way, all you need is one “yes” to land your dream post-military job.

Source: VAntage Point Blog and VA Careers (blogs.va.gov)

5 Tips for Transitioning from the Service to Starting Your Own Business

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former service members now businessman and business woman high five each other outside their cafe

By Chris Wayne, CTO at Yahoo Small Business and former U.S. Army Sergeant, 82nd Airborne Division

It may seem daunting to think about your next step from active duty to civilian life, whether you’re considering going back to school, applying for a new job, volunteering or even starting a new business.

While there are many factors that play into finding your next career path, it’s important to consider your passions, interests, the experience you’ve gained during your time in active duty and how the foundation you built can correlate with a post-military career.

Starting your own business is a great way to use the skills you’ve developed during your time in active duty. Based on my professional experience as the CTO of Yahoo Small Business, and my military experience as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, I want to offer the following five tips on how to transition from military personnel to business owner:

Follow your passion

During my time in the service, I was a combat engineer, which required complex problem-solving skills and the need to take calculated risks. Upon transitioning into civilian life, I identified the parallels and found myself in the tech field—now, years later, I am the chief technology officer at Yahoo Small Business. I work with small business owners every day, including many veterans, who saw a need that aligned with their interests and areas of expertise, and took the opportunity to become a small business owner. As a veteran, you already have the skills, network and discipline needed in order to start a business. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream.

Continue to value your unique abilities

At first, you may not feel that your skills translate to entrepreneurship, but they are key to establishing a resilient business that can withstand challenging circumstances. As you begin your small business journey, your ability to overcome adversity, prioritize and manage stress, and always lead with courage and integrity, are paramount to succeeding as an entrepreneur. Among countless other abilities, these skills enable you to lead effectively, meet the needs of your team and customers, and manage difficult situations in ways that others may not be able to.

Appreciate your military experience

Be true to who you are as a veteran and don’t be afraid to spotlight your military experience. Your unique experience has created a valuable framework for how you conduct and operate your business. Representing yourself in your business is a great way to build connections. For a consumer-facing business, for example, your personal style can help drive customer engagement and differentiate your business from other similar companies. You may even inspire other veterans to take the leap of faith and start their own business.

Leverage your network and join a community

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and with the challenges veterans can experience while making the transition, developing ties to a local community can be difficult. Fortunately, the military community is always ready and willing to support you no matter where you are. Leverage your network and seek mentors or advice by joining existing military and veteran entrepreneurship communities. Joining online communities of like-minded individuals is great for networking and offers a way for you to inspire and support others as you all navigate your entrepreneurial journeys together. For example, communities such as the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) is a global network of military families that support each other like a local community.

Work with a partner company

Outside of the military community, I encourage you to work with a professional partner company. Starting a business comes with challenges, but with your skills, the military community and a partner company behind you—you will have the tools needed to succeed.

Leveraging a partner company can help you establish your business the right way. For example, a partner tech company can help you develop a business plan and create and manage your business’s website. You can work with a partner company and small business advisors to outsource core aspects of business management, including your website, accounting, SEO and marketing and more. By outsourcing key aspects of business management, you can focus on what’s important— running and growing your business, engaging with customers and enjoying your journey.

Looking toward your future

As you look toward the future, remember that your skills and experiences make you uniquely suited to start your own business. Remember that you already have the critical components needed to be successful, and you have the military community—as well as a community of other entrepreneurs—on your team.

Chris Wayne is the Chief Technology Officer at Yahoo Small Business, where he oversees engineering, production operations, support and more. Wayne joined Yahoo in 2004 as a manager at the HQ Desktop Support, became the Chief Information Officer for Yahoo Small Business in 2015, and the Chief Technology Officer in 2018. He holds a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree from the University of Southern California and is a certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP). Prior to joining Yahoo Small Business, Wayne was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Women Veterans Alliance 2021 UnConference
    October 8, 2021 - October 10, 2021
  2. Camp Pendleton Career Fair
    October 14, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  3. Navy Base San Diego Career Fair
    October 15, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  4. VETS 21—Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium
    November 2, 2021 - November 4, 2021
  5. The DAV 5K will honor veterans with in-person and virtual events
    November 6, 2021