Government Contracting for Your Veteran-Owned Business

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Transitioning Veteran to small business owner

By Larry Stubblefield

GWACs, IDIQs, T&M—oh my! To a new business owner, these acronyms look like alphabet soup. To government entities, they look like work. But to a veteran business owner competing for a government contract, “GWAC, IDIQ, and T&M” look like opportunity.

To start off, the terms GWAC, IDIQs, and T&M are different types of government contracts—federal, state, and/or local. Known as government contracting to some, and procurement to others, selling to the government may provide you with a channel of revenue you may not have previously considered. And, with federally mandated service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) contract spends and the increased desire for supply chain diversity, you’re well positioned to take your business’ products and services to the government marketplace.

Full of jargon and complex processes, learning how to navigate the complex landscape of government contracting can be a difficult process if you try to tackle it alone. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but why re-invent the wheel when you don’t have to? Here are a few ways to start and grow your business in the federal marketplace.

  • Sign up for a training course. The Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program (VFPETP) prepares veteran business owners with the knowledge and skills they need to tackle government contracting. The program is delivered by the National Center for Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) and provides three different courses depending on where you are in your contracting journey:
  • VIP START: designed for veteran-owned businesses that want to enter or expand their business growth into the federal marketplace
  • VIP GROW: designed for veteran-owned businesses to increase their ability to win government contracts by establishing best business practices
  • VIP INTERNATIONAL: designed for veteran-owned small businesses that want to enter and/or expand their federal and commercial contracting opportunities overseas

Fun fact: VIP GROW graduates report an increase in their revenue by an average of 54 percent within their first year of completing the program.

  • Explore SBA’s free online tools. The federal contracting section of the SBA website contains easy-to-digest information on contracting assistance and specialized areas of government contracting (women-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, minority-owned, etc.). There’s also a Government Contracting 101 learning course available through the SBA Learning Center.
  • Connect with a trusted adviser. Local SBA resources. such as the Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), District Offices, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), can either provide you with the procurement expertise you may need—or direct you to a professional who can.
  • Network with other veteran-owned businesses who are already involved in government contracting. Many organizations will host events focused on government contracting, and just government in general. Attend and meet other veteran business owners who have contracting experience—the best advice comes from those who have lived it!

To learn more about the tools available for veteran, service member, National Guard or Reserve, and military spouse entrepreneurs, visit sba.gov/veterans.

FATHER SOLDIER SON—WATCH THE TRAILER!

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FATHER SOLDIER SON promo poster featuring three side views of a child, teen and father in uniform

Duty. Country. Family. From The New York Times comes a documentary 10 years in the making. FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix this month.

This intimate documentary from The New York Times follows a former platoon sergeant and his two young sons over almost a decade, chronicling his return home after a serious combat injury in Afghanistan.

Originating as part of a 2010 project on a battalion’s yearlong deployment, reporters-turned-filmmakers Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis stuck with the story to trace the longterm effects of military service on a family.

At once a verité portrait of ordinary people living in the shadow of active duty and a longitudinal survey of the intergenerational cycles of military service, FATHER SOLDIER SON is a profound and deeply personal exploration of the meaning of sacrifice, purpose, duty and American manhood in the aftermath of war.

FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix July 17.

Directed and Produced by:
Leslye Davis & Catrin Einhorn

WATCH THE TRAILER!

2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Award Recipients

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NCOA seal-and logo

The Military Vanguard Award of the Non Commissioned Officers Association is awarded annually to a single member from each of the Armed Services who has distinguished himself or herself through acts of heroism.

The selection is done through a rigorous nominating and screening process within each of the military services.

These awards commemorate and honor an enlisted Medal of Honor recipient from each branch of service.

As it says on Military service is based on a sense of duty, on the assumption that the common good is more important than the individual.

The actions meriting the receipt of the 2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Awards personify the spirit and intent of this most prestigious recognition.

 
 
Recipients of NCOA’s 2020 Military Vanguard Awards were announced via a Zoom Meeting on June 24.

Read the accounts of the heroic actions of our 2020 Military Vanguard Award recipients:

SSG BENJAMIN J. ROBERTS – US ARMY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USA.pdf
US ARMY Vanguard Award

 
 
SSGT SAMUEL S. MULLINS – US MARINES https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USMC.pdf
US MARINE Vanguard Award
 
 
SO1 MARK T. PALMER – US NAVY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USN.pdf

 
 
CMSGT JAMES M. TRAFICANTE – US AIR FORCE https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USAF.pdf
US AIR FORCE Vanguard Award
 
 
EM2 DANIEL M. PETERS – US COAST GUARD https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USCG-1.pdf
US CG Vanguard Award

Meet the Active Pearl Harbor Veteran that Just Turned 100

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veteran witha huge grin in a shriners hat waving with U.S. flag in the background

On the morning of December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Adone “Cal” Calderone had just finished his breakfast aboard the USS West Virginia, when his ship was attacked by eight torpedoes and four bombs from a Japanese air raid.

The 21-year-old soldier was trapped and wounded on the ship from the attacks, taking shrapnel to the face along with other injuries. “The doctors wanted to keep me longer,” Calderone said of his injuries, “I wanted to get back out there.”

Calderone would go on to serve the Navy for a total of six years.

Now a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Pearl Harbor bombings, Calderone resides in Stark County, Ohio, where he just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Calderone enjoys music, driving, staying active, and sharing his experiences from the war. “Dad really gets around,” Calderone’s son, Greg, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s amazing that he’s 100 years old.” Calderone’s 100th birthday officially makes him the oldest known living Pearl Harbor survivor.

“If feels good to be 100,” Calderone said, “It’s so nice, very nice.” Calderone spent the day celebrating with about a dozen of his family members and friends, including his wife of 75 years, Carrie, at a surprise birthday gathering in front of his house.

When asked what the secret was to his 100 years, Calderone gave a smile and reported without hesitation, “Good wine.”

Air Force general confirmed as first black chief of a U.S. military service

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General Charles Q. Brown in uniform

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American leader of a military service as the Pentagon and the country grapple with a raft of racial issues.

The confirmation also makes Brown the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

The 98-to-0 vote was a blowout approval for the four-star general. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brown in March, hailed the general on Twitter.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” Trump said, though the tweet came before the confirmation vote. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Brown’s nomination had been in the works for months, yet the vote came amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Top Air Force officials led the way in speaking out over the past week and calling for dialogue on racism. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the service’s top enlisted leader, became the first senior military official to speak out, and was followed by outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, delivered an emotional message Friday about his experience as a black airman.

In addition to becoming the first African American service chief, Brown will be the most senior African American Pentagon leader since Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but for the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.

“Without clear-cut answers, I just want to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead during difficult times like these,” Brown said of his nomination to be the service’s top officer. “I want the wisdom and knowledge to lead, participate in and listen to necessary conversations on racism, diversity and inclusion.”

Continue on to Politico to read the complete article.

Veteran Plants Roots In Tampa For Family With Floor Coverings International Business

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Mark McMurray pictured outside in front of his floor coverings vehicle with large samples displayed

Mark McMurray, 55, is no stranger to hard work and challenges.  After serving in our country’s military for many years he decided to go the corporate route. He was a consultant to many large public corporations and small private businesses, both in house and as a management consultant. It was during those years spent consulting with small, branch-based businesses that he decided to open his own business, buying the Floor Coverings International of North Tampa franchise which opened in early 2017.

He chose Floor Coverings International after much due diligence. The 150 plus unit franchise based in Norcross, Georgia, offered many of the key elements McMurray was looking for.

“I liked the thought of providing a great product and bringing a mobile showroom filled with samples of 3,000 types of flooring to people’s homes. That’s great customer service and convenience. And I get to build a dedicated work team at the same time.  That’s something that appealed to me from my military background,” said McMurray.

Having advised many business owners Mark offers his own advice to others looking for the same opportunity Mark found via a franchise model.

“The potential franchise you end up with should be something that you are naturally interested in; they should have the kind of model that fits your management/leadership style, be in the right territory, be affordable, and have a trustworthy and supportive franchisor and network, and the ability for you to build on its value.  It’s not easy to find a suitable candidate with all those criteria!  I had heard of Floor Coverings International during my previous career and had heard great things about the culture of the company.”

After years of moving around McMurray said he’s thrilled to have embraced Tampa for the past twelve years as his home and this mobile business has plenty of room for growth giving him the opportunity to work with his family too.

“I am thrilled that I get to be back at work with my wife, a CPA, and my father in law who is a general contractor. We are building something together along with my kids. That is very special to me.  And this industry excites all of us and is always supplying us with new challenges. The rate of beautiful new products coming on to the market is exciting, and the colors and trends change over time.  Luxury Vinyl Planking that is water resistant is growing in popularity and performs really well in Florida with the heat and humidity.  It gives the look and feel of hardwood, and our customers are really loving it which is very exciting.  Scraped hardwoods and reused woods are also coming out with some gorgeous new visuals, so there’s really a lot happening in the industry.”

Even through the Covid19 crisis, McMurray depended on the support team of his franchisor, Floor Coverings International to keep things going while following proper guidelines.

According to McMurray, “During the COVID-19 crisis, Floor Coverings International of North Tampa took all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees.  For In-Home Consultations, our employees were masked, gloved, wore booties, and disinfected all samples and items brought into our customers’ homes.  We’ve also conducted “Virtual Appointments” with our customers to discuss their projects and look at samples together.  Watching how things evolved and grew in the virtual space was most interesting, and we’re happy to work with our potential clients now however they feel most comfortable.

Our focus always has been providing excellent customer service, and it will remain so during this challenging time for our community.  We primarily work with residential customers who are updating the look and feel of their home, and that seems to have continued during the time when everyone had been spending so much time at home. Homeowners are seeing their homes in a whole new light after the quarantine, and they are ready to make some exciting new changes when the time comes to get back to normal.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA based Floor Coverings International which has ranked consistently as the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 150 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and along-side the existing decor. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in the next 5 years. For franchise information, please visit www.opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to floorcoveringsinternational.com.

The Combat Patch for the New Frontline

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circular patch with angel's wings with the text CAM at the top that stands for COVID Angel of Mercy

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals and healthcare workers have been at the frontlines to treat those effected by the virus.

As more and more medical personnel sacrificed their time and health for others, Army veteran Jacob Neal began to see the situation in a similar way to a battlefield.

Wanting to show his gratitude for those in the medical field, Neal decided to create a patch to honor healthcare workers, similar to the combat patches worn in the military. The patch features a medical professional dressed like an angelic being holding a stethoscope and a caduceus.

Neal has also created an additional patch for medical support staff, such as janitorial staff. Since the release of his patch, Neal has received orders from across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Afghanistan.

Along with the patches, Neal also created a scholarship fund for families of medical professionals who lost their lives in the fight against COVID-19. Half of all the profits made from the patches is donated to the scholarship fund while the other half is used for Neal to order and ship more patches.

“None of this goes to me getting rich,” Neal said of his new business, “I am just trying to tribute to this new set of heroes.”

Veteran Families Carry a Military Sense of Duty into Their Civilian Work

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famility portrait of mom dad and two children smiling

When his son, Mike, served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, Mike O’Sullivan Sr., a former Navy P-3 pilot and 1973 United States Naval Academy graduate, used to talk about how important it was that the equipment on ships work well. Now, both naval veterans work at Raytheon, helping to make the tools and systems members of the military depend on today. Their sense of mission is personal, and deeply rooted in their service experience.

“My dad and I both wanted to do our part to make a good company even better,” O’Sullivan Jr. said. “There is a lot of pride for a father to know his son is continuing the personal mission of service.”

The O’Sullivans are in good company. Raytheon employs more than 10,000 veterans, including other multi-generational families who developed their sense of mission in the military and now carry it over to their work for Raytheon.

The younger O’Sullivan currently works as a program manager for the Patriot missile program. He is also the new vice president of communications for the employee group Raytheon Employee Veterans Network, or RAYVETS. O’Sullivan Sr. retired from his position of senior manager, Supply Chain Capture, in 2014.

Following in Their Mother’s Footsteps
Brenda Boorda retired from the Navy as a commander and has now worked at Raytheon for 17 years. A vice president for Mission Assurance, she also serves as the RAYVETS global president.

Her three sons—Aaron, Andrew, and Phillip—have followed in their mother’s footsteps, coming to Raytheon after serving in the military. Aaron and Andrew served in the U.S. Army; Phillip served in the Marine Corps.

“Being in a family steeped with military tradition, service is like a calling,” said Phillip Boorda, who works in Mission Systems & Sensors. “I carry over the mindset of service into the work I do for Raytheon, where I continue to be part of something bigger than myself.”

His mother encouraged her sons to consider Raytheon first when they left the military for civilian careers. She has helped them transition into their new jobs, translating their skills into their work at Raytheon, a service she has performed for many veterans.

Her sense of duty is deeply ingrained. Boorda came from a military family and married into another military family. After college, she joined the Navy, just as her father, who served aboard diesel submarines, had.

“His uniform has always hung proudly in his closet—even until this day,” Boorda said. “His immense pride for his work resonated with me.”
Now she supports other veterans, often face-to-face, sometimes through virtual mentoring, via Raytheon’s partnership with American Corporate Partners and the Society of Women Engineers.

Carrying Service into Community
Along with its work for the veterans at Raytheon, RAYVETS supports veterans’ organizations in local communities. It’s part of the deep commitment Raytheon has made to help members of the military, veterans and their families.

Raytheon received the Platinum Medallion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans medallion program, or HIRE Vets, for its efforts to recruit, employ and retain veterans. It is the only veteran hiring award at the federal level.
Being in a company that employs veterans helps in the transition process to civilian careers, according to Boorda. “Affiliating with others who have shared experiences and goals is a great development experience,” she said.

Sailor Saves Young Man’s Life

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2nd Class Dylan Bryant in Navy Uniform smiling standing on Navy Ship

Every Navy sailor is trained to respond to life-threatening situations, from basic first aid to emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); on the ship out at sea there are no ambulances or fire fighters to call. Each sailor is a first responder, receiving continuous training until it all becomes muscle memory.

On his usual route home on June 3, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Dylan Bryant, native of Springfield, Missouri, a recruiter assigned to Navy Talent Acquisition Group Philadelphia, suddenly needed to put the life-saving skills he learned in the Navy to use.

As he was pulling into his apartment complex at Springfield Farms, Bryant noticed an oddly parked vehicle with two men standing near. Like any good motorist assuming it was car troubles, Bryant pulled over and asked if he could offer any assistance.

“I rolled down my window and asked them if everything was okay,” recounted Bryant. “After they both shook their heads ‘no,’ I asked if there was anything I could do to help when one of them looked up and asked me: ‘Do you know CPR?’”

What Bryant didn’t see initially, was a young man, unconscious and breathless, lying on the other side of the vehicle, while his friend, a girl named Kiyana, was trying her best to revive him. In that instant the training, that muscle memory kicked in.

“As soon as I heard ‘Do you know CPR?’ I threw my car in park and ran to the other side of the vehicle,” said Bryant. “I asked her [Kiyana] to step aside and informed her I was CPR qualified, and I would do everything I could to help.”

He continued CPR for 5 or 6 minutes until the local fire department and emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene.

“The entire 5 – 6 minutes seemed like the longest time in my life, as I was trying to keep count of the compressions in my head, and alternating with the breaths,” recalled Bryant. “Later EMTs told me that if I hadn’t performed the CPR when I did, he may not have made it through.”

As EMTs took over, the young man regained consciousness, and Bryant learned his name – Dominique. Bryant doesn’t know what caused the man to become unresponsive, nor which hospital he was taken to, but he feels honored to have been able to render much needed aid and save Dominique’s life.

“Something that Bryant said to me just stuck out, he simply said: ‘I was just in the right place at the right time’,” said Chief Electronics Technician Sean Jenkins, Bryant’s leading chief petty officer at Navy Recruiting Station Hagerstown. “But that’s just the type of person he really is, he wants to make sure that everyone around him is doing well and everyone is ok. I am glad that he was ‘in the right place, at the right time,’ because when you save a life, you are not just saving that one life, you are saving every life that that person has touched.”

NTAG Philadelphia encompasses regions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia, providing recruiting services from more than 30 talent acquisition sites with the overall goal of attracting the highest quality candidates to ensure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

Source: Navy Outreach

From Battalions to Business Degrees

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Graduating group of veterans lined up to accept their business degrees in caps and gowns shown from behind

If you happen to be one of the millions of veterans leaving the military for civilian life, you face a daunting challenge. You may have flown a gunship; you may have driven a tank; you may have commanded a unit…but how do you convince a corporate recruiter that this counts as management experience?

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, admitted to US military newspaper, “The civilian business community does not understand military service skills and how to translate them. But they want to.”

Business education can help those with a military background segue into the business world, by equipping them with the means to see how the skills from their previous career can be utilized in a different context. Simply put, an MBA teaches you to speak the language of business.

After years, or even decades in leadership positions, today’s veterans have considerable professional experience – which is very applicable to the business world. A military background, therefore, means that they are often well-prepared for management roles. Despite this, hiring executives are often skeptical and wonder how frontline experience translates to the front office.

To help uncover the challenges and advantages of an MBA education for a veteran, we spoke with Major Grégori Bassaud, who at the time of writing, was pursuing an International MBA (IMBA) at EMLYON Business School in France.

Being a veteran can mean management experience

A married 43-year-old father of two young children, Bassaud is a career officer. He spent 21 years in the French marine corps. His service was primarily spent in airborne units where he rose up the ranks as a platoon leader, a company commander and finally as a staff officer (deputy chief ops in his battalion). He’s been deployed abroad several times, including one-year tours in French Guyana and two-year tours in Réunion Island and Martinique. A skydive specialist, Bassuad has 600 freefall jumps to his name and has been awarded the National Order of Service Merit.

During his time at EMLYON, Bassaud has been impressed with the school’s lecturers, particularly with “their in-depth knowledge in their respective fields; their ability to make it simple whatever the difficulties may be.” He notes that he considered alternative graduate degrees which were less expensive than an MBA, but in the end was convinced that the return on investment would make it worthwhile. “The advantages include relevant events like the career forum, with more than 300 companies, regular testimonies from alumni through the IMBA mentoring program, which gives you access to people holding great positions. Being at EMLYON is already being in business, already being in a professional environment where you learn everyday through the context alone.”

What advantages do you think people with a military background have when they pursue an MBA?

Seniority and maturity, which offer two advantages. First real management experience: the average age of my cohort is barely 30. Only a few of my classmates have real management experience and even that is very limited—they only managed four to five people; I had to manage more than 200.

Secondly, both of your feet are on the ground. When you have gained professional experience in more than 15 countries, worked with a huge and various range of stakeholders – belligerents, allies from various countries, NGOs, diplomats, politicians, religious representatives – you have fewer certainties than your classmates. Your approach to case studies is more careful and exhaustive, you pay more attention to the details and your judgement is often rather softer than your colleagues’ – which might not be what people expect from those who’ve served in the military.

Why do you think people with a military background should consider earning an MBA?

A military background can be useful in terms of soft skills, but you also have to take into consideration your weaknesses when it comes to hard skills such as accounting, finance, marketing, and corporate strategy. Although an MBA does not provide deep insight into all of these fields, except strategy, the very broad range of topics covered gives you the sufficient tools to successfully take up your targeted position.

You should not ignore the benefit of spending a year with people younger than you when pursuing a full-time MBA. Despite their limited background, they have already gained interesting experiences and they are up-to-date, always aware of the latest technology, the latest apps, the latest online tools, etc. A year with them is an accelerated course of training in the latest trends.

How do you think networking is different for someone with a military background?

MBAs are not as widely acknowledged by employers in France as they might be elsewhere, on top of which companies can be hesitant when dealing with candidates with atypical profiles. Even companies that are aware of MBAs expect a classic career path—for instance, an engineering degree followed by an initial professional experience, then an MBA. When coming from the army, networking is much more complicated. You have to rely more on the network of former military personnel who made the switch than on the school’s alumni network. Due to this additional difficulty, having the intensive support of your career services office is useful.

After adhering to a regimented military timetable, how do you handle the challenges of attending study and social functions that happen in the late evening?

As a matter of fact, veterans are used to extended shifts. Being accustomed to early morning hours makes your life easier. You are always on time. Many of your classmates are not, despite regular warnings by the faculty. The main challenge is combining the workload with your family life, which is definitely a huge challenge. Only 10% of my classmates have children. The pace of the course is definitely set for monks, or at least for people with total freedom.

Studies suggest that people who are physically fit are also more successful in their careers. If this is true – do you think it’s another advantage for a military person?

The first thing to point out is not all military veterans remain physically fit. However, in my case, some of my classmates were surprised that I was so physically fit for my age. I also had a comparable feedback from a headhunter, telling me that it presented a good image. So I agree that it is a kind of presentation skill.

Source: topmba.com

New Movie Portrays Life of Military Wives

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Group of more than a dozen women standing together on stage clapping their hands while singing

A feel-good celebration from director Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty), Military Wives is inspired by the true story of the first Military Wives Choir.

The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral), Sharon Horgan (“Catastrophe,” Game Night), with Jason Flemyng (“Jamestown,” Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility, “The Crown”).

Inspired by the popularity of the Military Wives Choir, Military Wives is loosely based on the real story of a small of group of women who banded together and sparked a worldwide movement that now serves more than 2,300 people across the U.K. and in British military bases abroad.

Producer Rory Aitken was introduced to the phenomenon through choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone’s popular BBC television series, “The Choir: Military Wives,” which documented the creation of the second Military Wives Choir in 2011.

“I was unexpectedly moved by it,” says Aitken. “It did what the best movies do. It punched you in the gut. What they did in that documentary was uncover a small section of society that one might never think about, but who actually go through a difficult time in service for the rest of us. And harness the power of music to pull themselves up. It is really extraordinary.”

Producer Ben Pugh was given the documentary by Aitken and immediately felt the material would lend itself to the big screen. “The combination of a real-life struggle of these wives and partners, that is given a voice through the choir, felt completely universal.” he said.

Director Peter Cattaneo admits he came to the project knowing almost nothing about the lives of military families. “I was excited by a concept that would allow me to explore a way of life that has rarely been seen on the big screen, as well as make a film with music and singing at its core,” he recalls.

Two actresses on the set of the movie with one on the piano and the other with hands raised in song
PHOTO-BLEEKER STREET MEDIA

It was essential to the filmmakers that Military Wives accurately portray the daily lives of women whose partners are abroad risking their lives in service to their country. “Our screenwriter Rachel Tunnard met with and communicated with a group of wives to get details and anecdotes about their world,” says Cattaneo. “She had some quite intense and moving exchanges with them that brought a lot of reality into the script.”

As Cattaneo started meeting real military wives, he discovered two rich themes at the heart of the narrative: A fragmented group of people coming together through song, and the idea of women who are expected to “keep calm and carry on” finding their voices. “We got to know some very courageous and candid military wives who shared personal stories that were humbling, sometimes harrowing, and often hilarious,” he says. “I was struck by their honest, down-to-earth humor and I became determined to fill the film with this kind of comedy.”

The women’s satisfaction with the final screenplay became evident, he says, when several asked to appear in the film as extras. “In the scene where all the soldiers are going off to war, we used as many of them as we could. So when you see that scene, remember that those are real military families saying goodbye.

Military Wives movie poster with name of movie ans and two stars of the movie standing back to back smiling“Although the characters and much of the story is fictionalized, every effort was made to honor the huge sacrifices real military families make every day,” says Producer Piers Tempest. “I think the best films have a deep truth in them, and that’s what we felt about this story.

Nobody talks about them, but military wives are—forgive the pun—the unsung heroes of the armed forces.”

Watch the trailer on YouTube!

Available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Play and more.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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