Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

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Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.

 

The PACT Act and your VA benefits

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Disabled Veteran in wheelchair

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711).

And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.

 

What’s the PACT Act and how will it affect my VA benefits and care?

The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history.

The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

The PACT Act will bring these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

If you’re a Veteran or survivor, you can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits.

What does it mean to have a presumptive condition for toxic exposure?

To get a VA disability rating, your disability must connect to your military service. For many health conditions, you need to prove that your service caused your condition.

But for some conditions, we automatically assume (or “presume”) that your service caused your condition. We call these “presumptive conditions.”

We consider a condition presumptive when it’s established by law or regulation.

If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.

Read more about the PACT Act on the VA’s website here.

A Strategic Partnership Gets Veterans in Film Production

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Tyler Perry, winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, poses in the press room during the Oscars

Since relocating to the former Fort McPherson Army base in Atlanta in 2015, Tyler Perry Studios has become an even-greater force in the entertainment and commercial production industry, promising enormous employment potential for military veterans in Georgia.

“Cooperation with this powerful studio at the center of Atlanta’s burgeoning place in motion picture, television and commercial production is huge for Vets2Set and provokes us to launch a major recruiting effort in the South,” reports David Cohen, president and co-founder of Vets2Set. “When employers enrolled in our organization search our database to staff a production, we want them to find production assistants matching their every need from Covid Compliance Officers to disciplined and well-trained veterans familiar with electronics, flying drones, driving trucks, security and construction, among other skills. The majority of our veterans live in New York and California, but the opportunities in the South are tremendous now thanks to Tyler Perry.”

Cohen hopes to recruit new candidates in the Atlanta area in part through cooperation with Vetlanta, an organization providing veterans with business networking services.

Chief Operating Officer of Tyler Perry Studios, Robert Boyd II and President of Original Programming, Angi Bones, spoke with Cohen to discuss how Vets2Set operates and within a few days, the studio was signed up and ready to hire.

Tyler Perry Studios occupies 330 acres in the city of Atlanta, offering 12 state-of-the-art sound studios and a large backlot with prepared sets for a baseball field, farmhouse, prison yard, bank and the White House, among others. Creative options are endless, and the opportunity for career development for veterans is extensive. Cooperation with Vets2Set is a logical extension of Tyler Perry’s commitments and successes as a writer, actor, producer, director and philanthropist. Tyler Perry Studios joins more than 200 other employers working with Vets2Set to launch military veterans in civilian careers in production. Other cooperating producers include Walt Disney Television, Warner Brothers, MLB Network, NBCUniversal, RSA Films, Shutterstock Studios and advertising agencies, including BBDO Atlanta.

When staffing a shoot, cooperating producers have access to the contact details and skills profiles of hundreds of military veterans around the country. The Vets2Set database can be searched by zip code, state, city and skills. Producers then hire military veterans to fill already budgeted positions the same way they would hire any other production assistants. The contact between employer and veteran is direct. As a not-for-profit organization, Vets2Set takes no fees for developing and promoting use of its database but rather runs entirely on volunteer labor and donations from corporate sponsors and private donors.

Military veterans and media employers can enroll in this veteran employment program at vets2set.org. For further information contact pbernabeo@vets2set.org.

Source: Vets2Set

Improving Access to Healthcare

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soldier in wheelchair with son pushing him and daughter riding on lap

Google Cloud announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with Google Cloud to help developers implement new tools and applications that will improve veteran access to VA services and data.

Serving more than 19 million veterans and their families, the VA is the largest healthcare provider in the United States and manages a network of 170 medical centers and 1,000 outpatient sites. In addition to healthcare, the VA administers key veteran services ranging from education opportunities and unemployment assistance to housing aid, pension benefits and more. Ensuring veterans can access these services easily is a top priority for the VA.

Through a $13 million, multi-year contract, the VA will deploy Apigee, Google Cloud’s application programming interface (API) management platform. The implementation is part of the continued evolution of the VA’s Lighthouse API program, providing developers with seamless and secure access to VA APIs in the development of new tools and services. For example, with Apigee, developers can use the VA’s Benefits API to create applications that help veterans submit and track electronic benefits claims and add supplemental documentation. Developers can also easily access the VA’s Health APIs to build new online tools that help veterans manage their health and access their medical records.

“Google Cloud’s Apigee will help the VA to continue scaling the VA Lighthouse API program for third-party developers in a cost-efficient manner, offering veterans more choice in the applications and tools they use to obtain access to their data and services,” said Dave Mazik, director, VA Lighthouse. “This partnership is a logical next step to better connect veterans with VA services, innovate with trusted third parties and continue to offer a high-quality, digital-first customer experience to which they’re accustomed to in other areas of their lives.”

APIs are how software talks to software and how developers leverage data and functionality at scale in a secure fashion. They are products that need to be actively managed so that organizations and developers can execute business strategies and achieve innovation at scale.

“We’re honored to support the VA and our nation’s veterans,” said Mike Daniels, vice president of Global Public Sector, Google Cloud. “By making it easier for developers and partners to build new applications through Apigee, the VA is spurring innovations that will ultimately enable veterans and their families to more easily access important benefits and services.”

The VA’s Apigee deployment — built on Apigee’s FedRAMP-authorized platform — will support the department’s existing efforts to safeguard veteran data, in compliance with standards such as HIPAA regulations and the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically.

About Google Cloud
Google Cloud accelerates organizations’ ability to digitally transform their business with the best infrastructure, platform, industry solutions and expertise. We deliver enterprise-grade solutions that leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology — all on the cleanest cloud in the industry. Customers in more than 200 countries and territories turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to enable growth and solve their most critical business problems.

Source: Google Cloud

From Military to the Workforce: Building Your Resume

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black professional male smiling, giving the thumbs up sign

Resumes provide a historical snapshot of your experience, knowledge and skills. Recruiters should be able to review your resume and understand the work you have done, the length of your experience and your capabilities within a matter of minutes.

Resumes should encapsulate your experience as briefly as possible. Quantifying your experience can make them easier for recruiters to understand.

What’s in a resume? All good resumes include some standard information:

  • Contact information
  • Work experience
  • List of technical skills
  • Education
  • Job-related training
  • Languages
  • Affiliations
  • Professional publications
  • Honors and awards
  • Veterans’ preference
  • Level of clearance held

Contact Information

The first section of a cover letter should include your contact information, such as your name, address, preferred phone number and personal email address.

Work Experience

Your most recent experience should be listed first, and the rest of your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. Experience typically includes the company or agency you worked for, the position you held, the dates you worked there and highlights of your responsibilities.

Unless you have not been working for very long, you have no reason to detail the jobs you held early in your career. Focus on your most recent and relevant positions.

Highlight any accomplishments or results of your work that will be relevant to the position, such as those that:

  • Required extra effort
  • You completed independently
  • Demonstrated expertise
  • Received recognition

These should emphasize results you produced, dollars generated or saved, percentage improvements in performance, the extent to which you exceeded goals in the past or organizational turnarounds you created.

List of Technical Skills

Technical skills can vary widely from methodologies to software or hardware. Technical skills do not often require explanation and can be listed by name; however, you must qualify your experience with each so that recruiters know your level of understanding of these skills. For example, a recruiter that is interested in process improvement will know about Six Sigma (a business management and process improvement methodology), so you will not have to explain it, but if you listed that, you should state what level belt you are and how long you have been practicing. The same rule applies to word processing and programming tools or hardware, such as servers.

Education

Your education information should only include pertinent facts such as:

  • Name of the institution where you earned your highest degree
  • City and state of the institution
  • Date you graduated or received the degree
  • Specific degree earned
  • Minors or double majors

If you attended college or a technical school but did not receive a degree, you should state how long you attended and your field of study. However, you must be clear that you did not receive a degree. If you did not attend college or a vocational school, you would include information about your high school education or GED. List your most recent degree first. If you are still enrolled in an institution, list it. Do not forget to include the anticipated date of graduation and the degree expected.

Job-Related Training

You have most likely received a significant amount of job-related training through the military. Provide details on the training and courses that you took throughout your career. List only the training that has enhanced your experience and skills, which will be of immense value in your new position. If the course title is not descriptive or is unfamiliar, summarize or briefly describe the course to potential resume evaluators. Don’t assume the resume evaluator will understand the terms in your resume. If there is any doubt, convey the meaning.

Languages

If you include languages on your resume, state your level of fluency (such as novice, intermediate or advanced). Do not overstate your level of proficiency. If your fluency is very limited, it is probably not worth listing the language.

Affiliations

Your professional affiliations can relate your past work and your current job profile if you are working in the same field. On a resume, they inform recruiters that you have a professional interest beyond your day-to-day job.

Emphasize current contributions and provide some details to explain your abilities within precise areas. It is recommended that you not include any political affiliations since hiring managers or an agency may fail to judge you enthusiastically. If you decide to include them anyway, be tactful in describing your involvement.

If you have a lot of affiliations on your resume, recruiters may view you as an overachiever. Consider including only the most relevant ones or splitting them into career-related and community-related categories.

Professional Publications

List your publications in reverse chronological order. Only list those publications that relate directly to your career goal or the position you are applying for. Potential employers may attempt to track down your publication, so make sure the titles and your authorship are verifiable before including them.

References

Be prepared to provide references if requested. References are typically people who can verify your employment and vouch for your performance. A potential employer always thinks that a provided resume is up-to-date. If your references are not up-to-date when the resume is reviewed, your out-of-date list may harm your credibility or frustrate your recruiter.

Honors and Awards

Awards can tell a potential employer that previous employers or other organizations valued your accomplishments. The fact that you or your team received formal recognition for your efforts is a good indicator of your skills and work ethic.

Additional Information

Any information that does not fit in the other resume subject areas but is worth highlighting for a recruiter because of its relevance to the position or because it helps you stand out as a qualified candidate can go in this catch-all area.

Source: VA for Vets

Looking for a Service Dog?

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labradoodle with guide dog pack on its back

They say that dog is a man’s best friend, which could not be more accurate for veterans. Dogs provide the sense of responsibility and companionship that comes with pet ownership, but they can also act as a source of support both therapeutically and physically.

If you’re a veteran looking for a service dog to aid you in your day-today life, here’s what you need to know:

What Are the Benefits of Service Dogs?
There are approximately 500,000 service dogs on duty in the United States, with 19 percent explicitly trained to help owners with PTSD. Service dogs can be trained to perform numerous activities that are helpful to your specific needs, whether it be to provide mobility assistance, interrupt harmful behaviors, calm panic attacks, retrieve medication and more. Service dogs have also been proven to help veterans recognize and cope with their symptoms, gain sleep, reduce anxiety, strengthen relationships, balance emotions and assist in healthy transitions.

Does the VA Provide Service Dogs?
Until recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs did not provide service dogs. However, in August of 2021, a new piece of legislation known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act authorized the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program on dog training therapy based on the promising “train the trainer model.” The program will provide dogtraining mskills and service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses, regardless of whether or not they have mobility issues. However, regardless of how you receive your service dog, you will need to apply for VA Veterinary Health Benefits to get approved for ownership.

How Can a Veteran Apply for VA Veterinary Health Benefits?
■ Hearing, Guide, Mobility: The veteran should meet with their VA clinical care provider to begin the application process for this benefit. The specialist will complete an evaluation and make a clinical determination on the need for assistive devices, including a service dog. Once the assessment is completed and a service dog is determined to be the optimal tool for the veteran’s rehabilitation and treatment plan, the provider will work with the veteran to obtain the necessary information and documents to request the benefit. This includes coordination with the local VA Medical Center Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service.
■ Mental Health Mobility: The veteran should meet with a VA mental health provider to begin the application process for this benefit. The mental health provider and care team will evaluate and determine whether the mental health condition is the primary cause of the veteran’s substantial mobility limitations. The team will also assess whether a mobility service dog would be the veteran’s optimal intervention or treatment approach. If the team considers a service dog to be the optimal intervention, they will request the benefit on behalf of the veteran through coordination with the local VA Medical Center Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service.

Each veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:
■ Ability and means, including family or caregiver, to care for the dog currently and in the future
■ Goals that are to be accomplished through the use of the dog
■ Goals that are to be achieved through other assistive technology or therapy The veteran will be informed of an approval or disapproval of their service dog request by the VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aid Service. Veterans approved for service dogs are referred to Assistance Dogs International, or International Guide Dog Federation accredited agencies.

Where Can I Find My Service Dog?
For more information on where to find a service dog and connect with a community of other veterans with their own service dogs, the VA will usually coordinate with an organization such as the International Guide Dog Federation or Assistance Dogs International.

To access more information on the service dog process, please visit the International Guide Dog Federation at igdf.org.uk and Assistance Dogs International at assistancedogsinternational.org.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Purina, tillis.senate.gov

One Rifle. One Book. Two Hundred Veterans.

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Older man and young man on stage at a motorcycle rally

By Kellie Speed

Though Andrew Biggio served in the Marine Corps as an infantry rifleman during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), he never could have imagined the future impact he would have on veterans.

The founder of Boston’s Wounded Vet Run, New England’s largest motorcycle ride now in its 11th year, helps America’s most severely wounded combat veterans by raising money to provide housing modifications, new transportation, financial support and basic living needs through his nonprofit.

While delving into his own family’s military legacy and reading letters sent home from his great uncle killed during World War II, Biggio felt compelled to honor the Greatest Generation. His great uncle, also named Andrew Biggio, spoke of the M1 Garand rifle in his letters, which inspired the younger Biggio to purchase one.

What happened after turned into a five-year journey for Biggio, traveling the country to hear the inspirational stories of these warriors and have them sign their name on his rifle. He has 240 signatures to date! The result of his travels and collection of combat stories turned into his recently published book The Rifle: Combat Stories from America’s Last WWII Veterans, Told Through an M1 Garand.

U.S. Veteran’s Magazine caught up with Biggio to discuss this year’s Boston’s Wounded Vet Run, how he decided to feature the veterans in his book and what’s up next for him.

U.S. Veteran’s Magazine: You’re celebrating the 11th year of Boston’s Wounded Vet Run. Did you ever think it would be as popular as it has become?

Andrew Biggio: I never thought I would be doing this for over a decade. Like every other organization, we haven’t gotten to see our peak numbers because of COVID. People are still coming out and riding 10 years later, and some people take pride in saying they have been at every wounded vet run, so I love doing it.

USVM: How do you choose the veterans to honor each year and how much money do you raise each year?

Hundreds of motorcycles and riders at rally eventBiggio: Really, it’s just people I come across, people I meet, referrals from previous wounded veterans. I had served in Iraq and Afghanistan with veterans who got wounded, and they spent time in these hospitals with veterans who they think should be honorees.

USVM: Why did you decide to write The Rifle?

Biggio: I started having World War II veterans show up to my wounded vet ride, and I started to realize how it’s not every day you see a World War II vet come to a motorcycle rally to pay respects to the younger generation of veterans. It got me into really focusing on America’s last World War II veterans. I started to read my uncle’s last letter home, who I was named after, and how much he enjoyed the M1 rifle. The M1 rifle just represented that whole Greatest Generation because that was the standard rifle of the times, so I went out and bought one. I wanted to collect signatures of all of the different World War II veterans while I still had them around. After hearing some of their stories and visiting them, I just realized some people hadn’t heard the particular stories of these men I was meeting.

USVM: How did you choose the veterans to feature in the book?

Biggio: I really wanted to write about the units that weren’t often covered in history; they were often overlooked, so I picked not well-known divisions and things like that because my grandfather had served with the 10th Armored Division. That was a division you don’t often hear about.

USVM: What’s up next for you?

Biggio: I think I am going to do volume two of my Rifle book. The book [took me in so many unexpected directions, including leading] me to bring a World War II veteran from the 17th Airborne Division back over to Germany. [In March of this year,] we unveiled a monument for the 17th Airborne Division in Germany because there was no memorial there.

For more information about Andrew Biggio, his book and the veterans whose stories were featured visit thewwiirifle.com.

Success Takes Work

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man standing on a mountain holding a US flag victoriously

Though achieving NVBDC Veteran Owned Business Certification requires some work, our process will clearly guide you through the various steps necessary to accomplish this task much faster than you could accomplish it on your own.

Our certification was designed to meet the highest corporate supplier diversity standards as practiced by the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Diversity Council) and WBENC (Women Business Enterprise National Council). As we have been telling the applicants, “It is not enough that you’re a Veteran; you have to show up and run the company,” says Keith King, Founder and CEO. In the supplier diversity language, “showing up” translates to “operational control and authority.”

No corporation that we know accepts self-certification of a minority- or woman-owned business. Why would they do it with Veterans? Why would a Veteran even expect that they don’t have to prove their status? The NVBDC does not accept DD214s from the applicant. The applicant must request that their DD214 military records be sent directly to the NVBDC. The DD214 takes a highly-trained person to read and determine if that person meets the various statutory and regulatory legislation standards to be called a Veteran.

With over $2 billion in contracts awarded to NVBDC service-disabled and Veteran-owned businesses per year since 2017, it is difficult to just feature one company.

HOWEVER, HERE ARE A FEW SAMPLES OF WHAT OUR VETERANS WRITE US:

ATLANTA, March 31, 2022 — Digital Marketing Agency Joseph Studios Passes Rigorous Veteran Certification. The organic marketing firm is proud to be successfully vetted by the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC).

After a rigorous process, Joseph Studios — Atlanta’s leading digital marketing firm — was awarded an official certification from the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOB). The accreditation reassures other brands and VOBs that Joseph Studios is a reliable ally and validates our position as a VOB.

“Like our clients, we want to provide a brighter future for our community,” said Daniel Klein, IRR Army Captain (O3) and CEO of Joseph Studios. “By displaying that our business is Veteran-owned, we can assure our clients of our commitment to outstanding service while opening doors for other Veterans looking to transition into civilian life.” With their commitment to empowerment and social responsibility, all while providing the highest standard of service, Joseph Studios is proud to be officially certified as an NVBDC Veteran-Owned Business.

NVBDC Creates Win-Win Relationships:
The NVBDC system Keith and his team have in place, the relationships they cultivate, the tools they share and the knowledge you gain as a member works! The NVBDC member corporations want to work with Vets. They spend the money to be able to hire Vets, and when you put the work in – you get work. This month we received a master’s Service Agreement from JLL for J.P. Morgan Chase and an RFI from Pfizer. Sending a big thank you to the NVBDC Team!”

John J. Piekarski, U. S. Navy Veteran & President | ALLY Construction Services

JOE PAMELIA COLLECTIONS

I just wanted to let you know WE ARE A WALMART SUPPLIER AS OF YESTERDAY!! Excited, scared, overwhelmed but very proud of all of us. Just went live on Walmart Marketplace in the U.S. and soon to be on Walmart Globally. Soon to be on Amazon.com U.S. and then Amazon Globally.

Joe Pamelia, CEO | Joe Pamelia Collections

For more samples of what your fellow Veterans have to say about being NVBDC certified go to: nvbdc.org/certified-success-working-it.

To date, NVBDC has the support of over 140 corporations of all sizes helping NVBDC Certified Veteran Businesses with access and opportunities to become a part of their supply chain. Tier 1 Suppliers are being evaluated and held accountable to capture and report their Veteran spend as part of the process. NVBDC Certified Service-Disabled and Veteran-Owned Businesses (SD/VOBs) are gaining the advantage with new markets and new opportunities that will open a massive new range of potential business through our NVBDC Corporate Members.

NVBDC regularly receives direct requests from our corporate members regarding their current opportunities. We provide the detailed capability information from our NVBDC-certified SD/VOBs that match these corporate procurement opportunities. This alerts the SD/VOBs that their information has been shared with our corporate members.

“The NVBDC views entrepreneurship as another form of employment and believes that helping our Veterans succeed in business helps them, their families and the communities in which they reside,” said NVBDC founder and CEO Keith King.

We are excited to announce that NVBDC has signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the SBA (Small Business Administration). The United States Small Business Administration and the National Veteran Business Development Council are joining together to uphold a common mission: to help start, maintain and expand Veteran businesses. The two organizations will work together in the spirit of cooperation and open communications, with the primary goal of meeting the needs of the Veteran business community.

For more information and to learn how to become an NVBDC Certified SD/VOB please feel free to reach out to NVBDC by visiting our website: nvbdc.org or contacting us directly: (888) CERTIFIED.

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is a non-profit organization providing nationally recognized certification, training, networking and advocacy for Veteran small business entrepreneurs in the federal and commercial market. NVBDC’s goal is to ensure Veterans are procurement ready and have enhanced access to opportunities to start, operate, sustain and grow competitive and strong businesses serving Federal agencies and other corporate contractors. NVBDC will continue to fight to eliminate Veteran business “ineligible contracts.” NVBDC continues to work with the SBA to support Veteran businesses with opportunities made directly to them, for them!

Source: NVBDC

Veterans struggling with PTSD find hope and healing by working with horses

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Warrior Ranch Foundation train horses and matches them with veterans who need healing therapy

By Deidre Reilly, Fox News

Warrior Ranch Foundation rescues and trains horses — then matches them with veterans and first responders who can benefit from healing therapy.

Eileen Shanahan is the founder and president of the Warrior Ranch Foundation, headquartered in Calverton, N.Y.

She was joined by U.S. Army Ranger veteran Paul Martinez, U.S. Coast Guard veteran Maddie Feaster and Warrior Ranch trainer Gina Lamb — and together they explained how this equine therapy organization helps veterans and first responders heal from PTSD.

“We do horse interaction therapy,” explained Shanahan, who is also an editor with Fox News.

“What we do is we teach our participants about the nature of horses and the way horses communicate with each other — and that’s through body language.”

Warrior Ranch Foundation rescues and trains horses, then pairs them up with veterans and first responders who need their healing energy.

Shanahan explained that they teach simple exercises to learn to communicate with the horses, with a focus on safety.

“Now, think about it: We’re stepping into their herd — so it’s about respect and trust,” she said.

“You have to get the trust of that horse,” Shanahan continued. “When horses are out in the field seeing who the leader is, they’re poking each other, biting each other, kicking each other.”

She explained that they’re not hurting each other, noting that they each weigh about 1,000 pounds, “but when we enter their herd, that’s the only way they know how to communicate” — hence the foundation’s focus on safety.

Click here to read more on foxnews.com

Understanding the Exceptional Family Member Program

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Managing the care and services for a family member with special needs is more manageable with the right support. The goal of the Exceptional Family Member Program is to help your military family with special needs thrive in military life. EFMP is more than just one program or connection point. It’s the work of three components: identification and enrollment, assignment coordination and family support. The resources, tools and services that are available to support your journey are organized as part of the EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations or EFMP ROC.

If your spouse, child or other dependent family member is in need of ongoing medical or educational services, your first step is to enroll them in the Exceptional Family Member Program. Enrollment is mandatory but once enrolled, you will have access to the services, support and information you need to become your family’s best advocate.

Each branch of service has its own mission and history with EFMP. However, there has been a focus over the past several years on creating more standardization across services to make it easier for families to find what they need, when they need it. We can minimize misperceptions and increase satisfaction by helping families understand how the system works and what to expect.

What is EFMP?

The EFMP is a Department of Defense program implemented by all service branches. The EFMP has three components all working together.

  • Identification and Enrollment is the point of entry into the EFMP. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for active-duty military members who meet enrollment criteria. When a family member is identified with special medical or educational needs, those needs are documented through enrollment. Members of the National Guard or reserve may enroll according to service-specific guidance.
  • Assignment Coordination ensures the family’s special needs are considered during the assignment process. The EFMP makes every effort to help keep families together and support the service member’s career. The final decision for duty station selection will always be determined based on mission need.
  • Family Support enables the family to become its own best advocate by helping them identify and connect with resources, expert consultations, education and community support. EFMP Family Support provides in person support as well as virtual self-service support through online information and resources available on Military OneSource and through Military OneSource EFMP ROC specialty consultations.

Ways EFMP can help your service member’s family

Each installation has an EFMP Family Support office staffed with providers who can help your service member and their family in the following ways:

  • Find and tap into community resources, services and programs that will meet their needs.
  • Provide information and referrals and help your service member’s family develop a family services plan.
  • Offer training and other support to help your service member’s family be their own best advocate.
  • Provide a warm hand-off to EFMP Family Support at the next installation when your service member PCSs.

Tools and resources for families with special needs

EFMP and offers a number of tools and resources to support military families with special needs. Your service member and their family can tap into these to stay in the know and connect with the services they need.

  • EFMP resources, options and consultations provides enhanced support by phone or video. Special needs consultants can connect your service member and their family with experts in education, the military health care system and TRICARE, special needs financial planning, and more.
  • EFMP & Me is an online tool that allows your service member and their family to navigate services for military families with special needs, create customized checklists and stay organized.
  • The Exceptional Advocate is a quarterly e-newsletter that focuses on updates and information from the Exceptional Family Member Program.
  • The EFMP & Me podcast series covers all things EFMP and other topics of interest to military families with special needs, like caregiving, legal and long-term financial planning, PCSing with a family member with special needs and more.

Everything is easier when you have a network of support. EFMP can help your service member pull together the information, services and resources that will allow their family to thrive.

Source: MilitaryOneSource

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