By ShaDonna “Mo” McPhaul
Veteran homelessness and employment is an epidemic facing almost every city and state in the United States. Although the “Mayor’s Challenge” in some states such as Virginia has ended homelessness amongst our Veterans, this is an issue everyone must be proactive and engaged about because homelessness and unemployment can happen to any of us.
During my 20 years as an active duty Air Force member, I served as an Administrative Professional, and I was trained to find resources to solve problems for my peers, subordinates, and leaders in my chain of command. Since retiring, I have found numerous similarities and many difference that may have been a factor in our Veterans’ experience as a “civilian”.
Let’s just take a moment to reflect on the Basic Military Training (BMT) experience. Do you remember how it didn’t matter what part of the country you were from, how much money your parents had, or how much money or education you had when you came into the military? The distinct memories I recall from BMT was the uniformity of the training and the standards and accountability all of the Trainees were held. From the way we folded our socks, hung and wore our clothes, and even the keen attention to detail required to account for our money by recording the serial numbers were all apart of the foundation to something greater. The discipline the military instills in its members is unparalleled, the accountability for our actions is unwavering, and the responsibilities and resources we oversee and manage are unmatched.
Now, let’s fast forward to transition to leave military. We (veterans) go from having access to everything we need to get the mission of the military accomplished readily available to us, to having to coordinate our own logistical plan for our future. Most people would say, “You are an adult and that’s what adults do”. Although that statement is 100% accurate we must still acknowledge the fact that there may be some learning curves and adjustments a lot of Veterans may have a hard time adjusting and coping with.
From my experience as a service member, veteran, Founder of Mo’s Heroes, Customer Service Representative for Piedmont Natural Gas (Duke Energy), The host of “The Mo You Know Radio Show”, Mother, and everyday citizen, I would like to offer some tips and options for supporting our homeless veterans to get housing, our transitioning service members to obtain employment, and general advice to members of our community who may need help getting support.
There are ways to deliver great customer service and there are ways to be a great customer/client when you are in need of support from a business, organization, or individual. At some point in our lives the roles change and we are either the customer or the customer service agent.
Here are a few tips that may help you and hopefully get you the resources faster and more effectively.
#1 Stay Calm – Everyone is human and nobody wants to be “beat up” by angry or irate individuals.
#2 The individuals who are trying to assist you are not the reason you are in the position you are in. You must recognize and take the appropriate responsibility.
#3 Respect everyone’s time. Everyone is in need of support and everyone is on a time schedule to manage their time and work load. Please do your best to stay in adherence and not miss appointments. This is especially important for employment opportunities and medical services.
#4 Be as organized as possible. Have all of your request and required documentation together and ready to present. Check the websites and the organization’s brochures if you are not sure of the requirements.
#5 Stay patient. We don’t get into sticky situations overnight, so most likely we will not be able to get out of the situation overnight.
#6 Stay calm, stay cool, and stay in control. I’ve mentioned this twice because it is that important. Using your emotional intelligence will serve you well.
#7 Verbal abuse is not ok and it will not be tolerated (especially in the civilian sector). You may lose your job and the service provider reserves the right not to serve you.
#8 Do not be passive aggressive in person, social media, or any other means of communication. Effective communication is essential and paramount to your success.
# 9 Be careful how you communicate. You don’t want to risk being accused of harassment.
#10 You are always being “vetted” by your actions and appearance. Please be mindful of this and always present yourself with respect and dignity.
For more information about Mo’s Heroes and how to support our Veterans, Service Members, and our families, please feel to visit www.mosheroes.org, email me directly at Mo@mosheroes.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Tumblr, Flickr, and LinkedIn for more tips, options, opportunities and support.