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.
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.
If you’ve recently married into the military, or you or your spouse has just joined, you may be feeling both nervous and excited about the future.
During the adjustment period, spouses take on new roles, adapt to new schedules and learn new ways of handling many of life’s obstacles. To successfully do so, it’s helpful to know about the military spouse support available to you.
What’s on the installation
Your installation Military and Family Support Center is a good place to start for anything from local recreational opportunities and a personalized introduction to installation services including spouse career and employment opportunities, personal financial management classes, activities for children and families, military spouse resources and more.
Staying positive during a deployment
The power of being positive, along with a little help from friends and family, can make time apart from your partner your time to shine. Follow our tips to stay positive and make that time go by just a little bit faster.
Living on an installation for the first time
You may experience many emotions if you’re planning to live on an installation for the first time as a military spouse. While it’s perfectly understandable to feel some uncertainty, there are several ways to ensure the transition is a success:
Be proactive and keep a positive attitude. Take advantage of opportunities offered to you on the installation.
Get your children involved in activities. The installation youth center offers a wide range of sports, activities, events and social clubs. This is also a great way to meet other parents.
Get to know your neighbors. Other families are getting used to the new installation too.
Participate in military community activities. Pay attention to upcoming events and join in the fun. You can try new things and meet new people at the same time.
Stay in touch with the military spouse online community
You might be amazed at what you can accomplish on your own and with a little help from other military spouses. The Blog Brigade is the place to read about tips from other military spouses around the world.
Spouse education and career opportunities
Continuing your education or advancing your career when you’re constantly on the move can be tough. But there are many employment and education resources that are only available to military spouses.
Whether you’re in need of help writing a resume or simply deciding what career is best for you, the MySECO website is your one-stop shop. MySECO provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.
Depending on your individual interests and skills, there are many job opportunities available to you. Get your resume ready and explore what’s out there, on and off the installation.
There certain preferences for military spouses when applying for Department of Defense civilian jobs. With the help of the Military Spouse Preference Program, you can build your career as you move with the military.
If your job requires a professional license or certification and you move due to a permanent change of station, you can apply for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of re-licensure or certification fees from your service branch.
A move overseas can shake up your world as new possibilities and experiences await you. Finding a job overseas as a military spouse presents a unique set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you with your search:
Confidential non-medical counseling
Both Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer services for life situations, such as coping with deployments.
Having a baby when your partner is deployed
When your partner is deployed, there are ways to bridge the distance before and after your child’s birth.
Enroll in the right TRICARE region.
Enroll in childbirth classes at your installation’s hospital or military treatment facility.
Get a medical power of attorney. Choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the unlikely event medical staff can’t get your or your partner’s consent. Visit your legal assistance office for more information.
Familiarize yourself with local Red Cross procedures. This way, when you go into labor you can have your medical provider notify your partner.
When you become your spouse’s caregiver
When your spouse is severely injured or has a debilitating illness, you face the prospect of starting a whole new chapter of your life—one you hadn’t expected. Becoming your spouse’s caregiver presents a unique set of challenges that can affect you emotionally and physically, and can often seem overwhelming. Read about common reactions to becoming a caregiver, resources for support and tips on taking care of yourself throughout the caregiving process.
All military jobs take dedication, and being a military spouse is no different. We hope this list of resources can help you through any challenges that may arise along the way.
Tall, dark, and handsome describes the former Green Beret turned firefighter and now actor Jeff Bosley. You’ve seen him on the screen in Take Point, Seal Team, Ray Donovan, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He plays Nomad in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops III. He’s a true-life hero who served in the Special Forces–a secret society of the nation’s finest warriors that nobody knows, ones who are in it for the honor but never get the glory.
So how on earth did this Idaho native go from down-home good ol’ boy to badass Special Forces guy to a first responder …and then finally settle in the land of make believe? Join me as I learn a bit about Jeff–how he got to where he is today and where he’s headed.
Tell me a little about why you chose to go into the Army, then on to Special Forces …. what are some of your best memories from those years?
It was a convoluted journey, to be honest. I have some random cousins and uncles who served, but I didn’t come from one of those heavily populated military families. I spent many years chasing college degrees because that’s what I assumed you are supposed to do. Then, after 9/11, I still resisted the urge to serve. I had always wanted to, but the longer I put it off, the more hesitant I became. I look back and think it was an odd fear of leaving the comfort of the normal life I had finally carved out. Finally, when I was nearing 30, I decided if I didn’t do it, I would forever regret it.
I chose Special Forces right out of the gate because I’d always wanted to serve and once I finally did, I knew I wanted to be in the Special Forces community: All or None.
How was your transition out of the military? How did you choose firefighting?
It wasn’t too bad. Thanks to so much college prior to serving, my transition into the civilian world wasn’t too bad when it came to interviews and resume writing, etc. I was actually in the middle of ETS-ing from Group [“expiration–term of service,” or leaving the military] when I first tested for the Fire Department. I passed the requisite tests and then began the Fire Academy in lieu of the ETS process. It was absolutely chaotic.
I knew I wanted to continue serving in a small unit team capacity. Law enforcement just started getting so hamstrung that I knew it wasn’t for me. Firefighting was always appealing to me when considering options other than the military. I was a volunteer firefighter in college, so it made sense to go back to it. I loved the four-person shifts and how they emulated the tight-knit community of an ODA [“Operational Detachment Alphas,” which are small, versatile Special Forces teams].
When did you know perfecting your craft and solely focusing on acting was the right move?
As a kid, if I could have had some higher power come out of the sky and give me my wish, it would have always been to be in movies and television. When I grew up, the practical side of me took me to the Special Forces.
However, after wrapping up my SF career, my firefighter career was missing something. After the perfect storm of events, including divorce and other personal “stuff,” I finally said “fu** it” and went for it. I had spent tons of time in the theatre and in college theatre, practicing, studying and performing…why not finally just go for it.? I guess I looked at it like I had nothing to lose. Just like my decision to go into Special Forces–I’d forever regret it if I didn’t try.
How has your military training and experiences helped you navigate Hollywood and your pursuit of an acting career?
It helps me DAILY! Whether grinning and bearing some inconvenience or navigating the city of with an SF-learned psychological warfare attitude…my entire career helps me tolerate the chaos, uncertainty and uncontrollable business that is Hollywood. I’m continuing my formal acting studies and experiences, which helps me in the business and in the art and craft aspect of the city. But the skills learned during my SF service certainly help me become more marketable for certain roles. Many roles demand weapons training or feature characters that have a history of military experience and so on. Merging the craft of acting with the skills of SF often helps me stand out and deliver more believable performances because of the amalgamation of all I’ve seen and done.
What is your view of the Flag controversy since you have served not only in the military but also as a first responder?
I abhor it. Yet, patiently and frustratingly, I respect it. I know the meaning and the message many argue it represents, but I personally cannot EVER support kneeling towards the flag after all I’ve seen and done. To me, it is the last symbolic hope that we should all agree on and unite towards. Anything less is wrong. And I say that knowing that all I believe in and fought for is what allows this difference of opinions, and I firmly respect that. We can disagree and still be friends. I’ll just never do it.
What are some of your passion projects?
The kid in me loves comics and action and adventure. I spent a lot of time working to get The Punisher brought to life and would love to see that come to fruition some day. I’m also a huge fan of great books and novels, and there are a handful of series I’d kill to see brought to the screen. I’d love to play Sandman Slim or even the main character, Joel, from The Last of Us, a great video game for the PlayStation system.
Other than that, one of my closest friends in life and in filmmaking Scott Seagren and I are always working on his scripts, whether pitching them to Netflix (which we are currently doing with three under our Scruff Brothers Films umbrella), making them ourselves, or working to collaborate with others to bring them to life. I love acting and circumstantially producing and directing, so any chance to do those as a career is a gift in my eyes.
To keep up with Jeff Bosley, be sure to check out www.jeffbosley.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @thejeffbosley, Twitter @thejeffbosley, Facebook @thejeffbosley, and Vimeo @jeffbosley.
A commonality among veterans is the entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated through the discipline and skillset that comes with being in the military. These skills include determination, relationship-building, being process-oriented and having a passion for service, which can be easily be transferred into establishing and running a business.
When deciding what to do next after making the ultimate decision of returning home and departing from my active role in the military, I knew I had to be selective and had a laundry list of considerations to keep in mind. I relied heavily on my experience and skills to help find the best fit. Through a lot of my research, it became clear that franchising was the right route for me, and ultimately stumbled upon a drug testing franchise, Fastest Labs, which checked every box I was personally looking to fulfill in this venture.
While the transition back into a more traditional career after being in the military for over 4 years can be an adjustment, I want to share a handful of tips for recent veterans who are vetting opportunities and looking to take that next step, all of which served as a guiding light through this new, riveting venture.
Ask how you can give back to your community
When looking for the perfect business, there are a lot of options to consider, especially in franchising. Ranging from gyms, security companies, manufacturing businesses to restaurant concepts — the options can often be overwhelming at first. When in the first phases of narrowing down your options, I always kept my experiences in the military and deep-rooted appreciation for serving others. This was an aspect of my history with the military, I knew I had to carry into my new business — whatever it may be. Finding what motivates you can help in finding a business that provides a valuable, unique service to the community. One thing that drew me to Fastest Labs was how much it felt like a family. That support system and how well the business is run was a huge driving factor in why I decided to open a Fastest Labs in 2020. Local businesses play an integral role in one’s community, and asking how you can help support it is critical. It is important to look for values in not only the offerings of the concept, but the overall business model, reflect your own. These values play a major role in how you will be supported, which trickles down to the impact you will have on your community.
Search for an industry you have a baseline understanding of
Tapping into your past experience can assist you when considering your next industry for work. There is definitely room to grow and learn, but jumping head first into business ownership can be eased if you understand — or have some level of personal experience — with the industry, even if it’s from the consumer perspective. Coming from a military background, routine and surprise drug tests were part of the equation. When opening up a Fastest Labs, there was a comfort in having knowledge of how the business worked as well as a motivation to learn as much about the industry as possible. Look for an industry that you find interesting and build off of that in your search.
Focus on the skills required not the tasks you’ll complete
When starting a business, the lists of tasks can be intimidating. There were various classes and certifications that were needed before opening up Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. not to mention learning and instilling the best practices behind running a successful company. I knew that my military training and experiences — such as delegation, multitasking and problem-solving — would provide an impactful foundation for running and growing a successful business. When you’re looking for a next step in your career, try to not get hung up on the technical tasks required, rather, focus on the skills needed to be successful, and you’ll see the boxes being checked off naturally.
Have the hard discussions early
Money can be a sensitive topic, and it can be hard to factor it into the conversation when your heart is already sold on an idea, which is why your realistic budget should be top-of-mind from the very beginning. It is also important to do your research, because costs can differ depending on what franchises you are considering — think about every aspect of the business and what will be required for you to invest. Knowing that entrepreneurship was on the table, my fiancé and I began to save while I was still overseas, which allowed us to open our business in record time (six weeks) and hit the ground running, even amid the pandemic. Taking financials into consideration is key, and making a plan on how to spend and save early will surely be a pillar in your success story.
About the Author Matt Noe is the Owner and Operator of Fastest Labs of Columbus, Ga. Noe started his career in the military and served multiple tours overseas with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as well as the 10th Mountain Division. After the military, Noe served as a government contractor. Noe greatly enjoyed serving his country but had dreams to pursue entrepreneurship. While oversees, Noe searched for the perfect franchisee opportunity for him and was drawn to the family-like atmosphere that he found in Fastest Labs. Noe opened the Columbus, Ga. location in 2020 and manages and operates the business with his fiancé, Rebecca.
As someone who cares about a service member, you may have questions about how the military ensures equal opportunity and acceptance of individual differences among all its members. The DOD has taken steps to root out bias, ensure the military reflects the nation’s diversity and promote an environment in which every member is treated with dignity and respect.
Over the coming months, there will be an effort to get input from service members – both officers and enlisted – to hear their views and concerns about diversity and inclusion in the military.
Some changes have been implemented to advance diversity and inclusion. Military leaders have been charged with making equal opportunity and inclusion a priority. Your service member may have already benefited from some recent changes, including:
Removing photographs and references to race, ethnicity and gender from personnel files in promotion and selection processes. This eliminates the risk of bias when considering a candidate for a promotion, assignment, training, education or command.
Enacting stronger protections against harassment and discrimination including prohibiting discrimination because of pregnancy.
Training to detect and respond appropriately to bias – both conscious and unconscious. Service members and leaders are also receiving training on recognizing and understanding the impact of their own biases and prejudices.
Reviewing hairstyle and grooming policies for racial bias.
Training for commanders on guiding discussions on discrimination, prejudice and bias.
As an ongoing effort, the DOD collects and analyzes information to identify prejudice and bias, measure the effectiveness of its actions and expose areas requiring improvement.
Longer-term steps toward diversity and inclusion
Building upon the above, the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion has recommended further steps to improve racial and ethnic diversity and broaden equal opportunity in the military. These recommendations include:
Updating recruiting content annually to reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
Diversifying senior-level positions so they reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
Identifying and removing barriers to diversity in aptitude tests while retaining a rigorous screening process.
Identifying and removing barriers to senior leadership for diverse candidates.
Disclosing demographic information about promotion selection rates. This will improve transparency and reinforce the DOD’s focus on achieving equity across all grades.
Creating a diversity and inclusion mobile app and website that will allow service members to easily connect with each other and locate resources.
Prohibiting involvement with extremist or hate group activity.
To ensure continued progress, the DOD has established the independent Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services. This committee will continue the work of examining any and all issues that will improve equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in the military.
Diverse and inclusive ranks are essential to morale, force cohesion and readiness. Your service member plays an important role in maintaining an environment that values and respects individual differences.
When the sun rises over Omaha Beach, revealing vast stretches of wet sand extending toward distant cliffs, one starts to grasp the immensity of the task faced by Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944, landing on the Nazi-occupied Normandy shore.
Several ceremonies were held Sunday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the decisive assault that led to the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi control, and honor those who fell.
“These are the men who enabled liberty to regain a foothold on the European continent, and who in the days and weeks that followed lifted the shackles of tyranny, hedgerow by Normandy hedgerow, mile by bloody mile,” Britain’s ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewelyn, said at the inauguration of a new British monument to D-Day’s heroes.
On D-Day, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. This year on June 6, the beaches stood vast and nearly empty as the sun emerged, exactly 77 years since the dawn invasion.
For the second year in a row, anniversary commemorations were marked by virus travel restrictions that prevented veterans or families of fallen soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Allied countries from making the trip to France. Only a few officials were allowed exceptions.
At the U.K. ceremony near the village of Ver-sur-Mer, bagpipes played memorial tunes and warplanes zipped overhead trailing red-white-and-blue smoke. Socially distanced participants stood in awe at the solemnity and serenity of the site, providing a spectacular and poignant view over Gold Beach and the English Channel.
The new monument pays tribute to those under British command who died on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy. Visitors stood to salute the more than 22,000 men and women, mostly British soldiers, whose names are etched on its stone columns. Giant screens showed D-Day veterans gathered simultaneously at Britain’s National Memorial Aboretum to watch the Normandy event remotely. Prince Charles, speaking via video link, expressed regret that he couldn’t attend in person.
On June 6, 1944, “In the heart of the mist that enveloped the Normandy Coast … was a lightning bolt of freedom,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly told the ceremony. “France does not forget. France is forever grateful.”
Most public events have been canceled, and the official ceremonies are limited to a small number of selected guests and dignitaries.
Denis van den Brink, a WWII expert working for the town of Carentan, site of a strategic battle near Utah Beach, acknowledged the “big loss, the big absence is all the veterans who couldn’t travel.”
“That really hurts us very much because they are all around 95, 100 years old, and we hope they’re going to last forever. But, you know…” he said.
“At least we remain in a certain spirit of commemoration, which is the most important,” he told The Associated Press.
According to recent statistics, there are almost 17.5 million veterans in the United States. Of these veterans, 4 million of them are suffering from a service-related injury with disability ratings ranging from 10% and above. Meanwhile, there are 13 million who have received disability ratings for non-service-related injuries.
This means the majority of them are suffering from one form of disability or another. That’s why it’s really not surprising, and incredibly critical, that there are a lot of small business loans and grants for disabled veterans in the U.S., especially for those who are thinking of starting a business.
Here are some of them:
Small Business Association Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan
This is one of the most popular programs that the Small Business Association (or SBA) offers, and for good reason. It offers a low-down payment and more flexible payment options. SBA also offers a counterpart of this loan program for non-veterans, but they will not be able to enjoy the discounted rates and other privileges provided to veterans.
StreetShares Foundation StreetShares Foundation is an organization that was specifically established to help veteran business owners. They have various loans and financing programs. In fact, they even award grants to veterans who qualify for their reward opportunities annually.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program
This is technically not a loan or financing program; however, it will still prove to your advantage to apply for it. This government program seeks to assist veteran-owned small businesses by doing business with them in the form of government contracts.
All you need to do is to get your business registered through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (or OSDBU). This will add your startup to their roster of small businesses to call upon if they found themselves in need of the products and services that you offer.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants
The best thing we love about grants is that you won’t have to repay them anymore. You are not getting this money for free, though. You will be required to follow the terms of the money provided. Not to mention that it can be quite difficult to get approved given the number of applicants each year. va.gov
The Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab and Employment Ownership Track
Here’s a program that is specifically designed for veterans with disabilities. In fact, you must have a disability that serves as an employment barrier in order to qualify for it. We highly recommend this program, especially for those who have a high disability rating.
Small Business Administration Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
This is closely similar to the OSDBU program wherein qualified businesses will be granted an opportunity to qualify for contracts that can, in turn, reap revenue. The only difference, though, is that these contracts will not strictly come from the government. https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/veteran-assistance-programs#section-header-0
Increasing Your Chances
The programs we have listed above are definitely not the only ones that are available out there. There are a lot of government offices, organizations and even companies that offer financing aid to disabled veterans. The ones that we have featured above are simply the most popular choices, and thus, more easily accessible. However, please feel free to research your options further.
In the meantime, allow us to share with you tips on how to increase your chances of qualifying for any program that you wish:
• Always check the eligibility requirements. Don’t waste your time getting the paperwork ready and waiting for a response. Make sure that you are eligible from the get-go by verifying your eligibility.
• Take care of your business credit history. Most of you are probably researching loans and grants to start your business. This doesn’t mean that existing business owners won’t qualify for these programs anymore. Quite the contrary, it is easier for a small business with an excellent business credit history to get accepted to these programs.
• Stay organized. There is a lot of paperwork required for any loan or grant application. Those with existing businesses already are typically required to present business and personal tax returns for at least the past three years. Other requirements may also include financial statements, business certificates and business plans, among other important documents.
• Find out your exact need. Finally, you should determine where you are going to use your loan or grant money and how much before even thinking of applying to a program. In this way, you will be able to make sure that the program you’re applying for and its benefits will be enough for your needs. It will also come in handy during interviews.
We hope that you have found our information helpful in finding the program that your small business requires to take flight. It is the least we can do in exchange for the service you have provided. Good luck!
Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in OpenCashAdvance.com.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are officially working on a new WWII-inspired series with star director, Cary Joji Fukunaga.
He is signed on to direct the first three episodes of the 10-part series. Fukunaga is also in the midst of working on the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die, which has been put off to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Masters of the Air is the name of the series, which is based on the Donald L. Miller book of the same name. It follows American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who aimed to bring the fight straight to Hitler inside the borders of Nazi Germany. It’s considered to be the third installment of the Band of Brothers and The Pacific set of World War II miniseries.
I remember how confident and prepared I felt when I transitioned from active duty service. But as soon as I put away my uniform, it hit me: I needed help navigating the difficult and oft-talked-about transition to civilian life. Connecting with other Veterans and Veteran service organizations helped me navigate life after military service. So much so, in fact, it motivated me to focus my career on transitioning service members and Veterans.
Unfortunately, many Veterans I wound up working with struggled to adjust to civilian life more than they expected. Many struggled to find their way, unaware of the many resources available to help them find their way after military service.
Each day, more than 500 service members will start their transition. To them and the thousands more who will eventually make the very same transition, I offer five pieces of proactive advice from my own personal experience:
1. Make the most of your education benefits and career training opportunities.
Veterans can use their education benefits to pay for training programs, so you should be sure to look into ways to maximize what you’re getting out of benefits. Keep in mind, however, that not all programs are covered in the same way, and not every program includes the same type of training or extra resources to aid you throughout your process. Since 2009, 773,000 Veterans and their family members have utilized these funds for programs ranging from technology to entrepreneurship to foreign affairs and so many more, so do your homework and research your options before making a decision.
2. Remember that every transition story is different.
While there are certainly some commonalities, no Veteran goes through their transition in the same way – each person has their own strengths and faces their own unique challenges. There is no right way to execute your transition and there’s no need to rush, so take all the time you need to adjust and find your new routine. One thing that took me a while, as silly as it might seem to some, was figuring out what to wear! I wore a uniform every single day for years, so I never even stopped to consider the endless options of what I could wear to work as a civilian, and what message that might communicate.
3. Take pride in what you bring to the table.
By the time you reach the end of your commitment, you may have led teams into life-or-death situations, made high-level decisions, or managed millions of dollars in equipment. Even though you may be starting your career later than your civilian peers, your experiences are unmatched in comparison. Learn to tell your story with confidence in a way that demonstrates the skills and experiences you gained in the military, and how they translate to future opportunities.
4. Keep your personal values in mind.
Just like the different branches of the military, every organization has its own unique culture. As you search for employment, take the time to learn about the mission and values of the organizations you’re interested in. Veterans often return home with a very specific set of core values and ideals, and it’s hard enough to make the transition to a different industry with its own cultural norms, so make sure your future workplace stands for values and ethics that align with your own.
5. Connect with your community and peers.
If you need help, ask! The process can be long, confusing and intimidating, but it’s important to know that there are people and organizations out there who want to help and have dedicated their own post-service careers to doing so. Just be careful to keep in mind what I mentioned earlier and to not measure yourself against others – everyone’s experience is different.
By doing each of these five things, I am confident that as service members work to close one door – at their own pace, of course – they will simultaneously open another full of security, opportunity and continued success.
Lawren Bradberry, MBA is a retired Army NCO and the Senior Manager of Military Programs at Galvanize, the nation’s leading provider of software engineering and data science training. More than 700 active-duty military and Veterans have used Galvanize training to get post-military tech jobs. For more information, visit Galvanize.com.
He may perhaps be best known as Miguel on NBC’s Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning family drama, This Is Us.
Yet actor and Air Force veteran Jon Huertas is no stranger to bringing his real-life military experience to other roles as well. For eight seasons, Huertas starred as detective and Army veteran Javier Esposito in the ABC series, Castle. He also appeared as Ramirez, a Marine Recon Sniper Spotter, in JAG, and retired Marine Sergeant Jack Kale, in NCIS.
A pivotal role for Huertas was in David Simon’s HBO miniseries, Generation Kill, as Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera.
The series offered a unique perspective on the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an event that hit home for Huertas, who served an eight-year stint in the Air Force in both Operation Just Cause (Panama) and Desert Storm (the first war in Iraq) as an aircraft nuclear/conventional weapons specialist.
Bringing even more veteran diversity and inclusivity to the film and television industry is on the actor’s radar and also part of his latest venture.
Alongside fellow collaborator Kenny Stevenson, Huertas recently launched the production shingle, WestSide Stories. He says the new company has several projects in various stages of development – most of them featuring at least one military veteran or active-duty character.
“With our company, we have ‘diversity’ at the heart of every story we want to tell,” he said, “and for me personally, having an active-duty member of the uniformed services or a veteran with a positive portrayal of that type of character is paramount to each and every one of our stories.”
In addition to adding more military/veteran positive roles on the big screen, Huertas is also an advocate for giving Hollywood executives, directors, writers and producers more access to military bases – Air Force in particular – so those on-screen portrayals are more accurate as well.
“One reason I think it’s important to see what the Air Force does is that it’s a lot more than fighter planes and bombers,” he said. “There are so many things the Air Force does that gets overlooked because most stories about a military event or conflict involve the Army, the Marines or Navy, with the Air Force in just an air support role.
“Which is so important…. it’s how you win wars,” Huertas explained, “But it’s also important to shine a light on the other people who volunteer their lives in service of this country. The more we can show people, the more they’ll want to tell stories about it.”
A Born Actor
Born in New York City to a Puerto Rican father and a Caucasian mother, Huertas was raised primarily by his grandparents. He began acting when he was just 10 years old, taking part in school plays. Reportedly, Huertas once had to sing a solo at his strict Catholic school and his performance so moved a nun – who had instructed him to do so as a punishment – that the experience helped him make up his mind to pursue acting.
“The Air Force was an important stepping stone leading into my entertainment career,” Huertas said. “It allowed me to take advantage of getting a higher education, and I found it and the men and women I served with were very supportive and that’s what you need to succeed in this business, and any really, the support of your people.”
Huertas finished his college degree in theater while in the Air Force. He landed his first uncredited role in 1993 in The Webbers, but in 1998, portrayed Joe Negroni in the romantic drama, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? alongside Halle Berry, Paul Mazursky and Ben Vereen. That same year, he landed the role of Antonio in the television series, Moesha, and later played Brad, a witch hunter, in the popular ABC television hit, Sabrina the Teenage Witch – a role for which he was nominated for a 2000 ALMA Award.
But it was Huertas’ role of Detective Esposito in ABC’s police drama, Castle, that earned him and his co-star, Stana Katic, an award for Best Performance in a Drama Episode at the 16th Annual PRISM Awards.
Huertas’ latest projects include a new horror film he both appears in and produced called, Initiation, in May. He also directed a short film that will be debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival in June called, Two Jacked, about what happens when the world’s worst carjacker meets the world’s most notorious armed robber.
Apart from his Hollywood roles, Huertas regularly attends charity events benefiting veterans, including Wounded Warriors and Puppies Behind Bars. The Wildlands Network and the Aware Foundation are other organizations close to his heart. Married in Tulum in 2014, Huertas also enjoys spending time with his wife of seven years, Nicole Bordges.
Huertas believes both his military and LatinX roots have definitely influenced how he approaches his roles on screen.
“The Air Force shaped me and I think that we as creatives can show that there are different ways to be influenced in our lives,” Huertas said. “And serving your country can be a very profound way to achieve that.”
He says his background helps him navigate how he protects his characters by knowing when, who, and how to talk to the right person when it comes to any changes that would help round out or authenticate that character’s objective or backstory.
Huertas says this specifically comes from learning and respecting the military’s ‘chain of command.’
“That chain has always served well,” Huertas says. “I think following a good chain of command helps someone identify a great leader, and you want that person to be supporting you in the success of your character or the story you are trying to tell.”
And while there is improvement in incorporating more LatinX characters in entertainment, Huertas feels much more can be done.
“What we see in the media inspires us both positively and negatively,” he said. “So, for me, I feel it’s our responsibility – and more specifically, my responsibility since I’ve been able to create a small platform – to step up and try to project real LatinX heroes onto audiences in hopes of inspiring more people to strive for what they are capable of.”
Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, And Gavin Degraw To Perform At Livestream Benefit Concert With Alfonso Ribeiro As Host
As part of the kick off to National Nurses Week, which brought together health care workers at Lenox Health Greenwich Village to thank the NYC community for their continued support over the past year, Northwell Health announced the return of Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ in honor of military and health care heroes.
Northwell Health has announced that the celebratory event taking place over Memorial Day weekend will feature a television special, produced in partnership with Al Roker Entertainment, airing Thursday, May 27 at 7:00pm ET on NBC4 New York.
This event is prior to a livestream benefit concert with superstars Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, Gavin DeGraw and a special performance by Northwell’s Nurse Choir, with Alfonso Ribeiro as host, on Monday, May 31 at 7:00pm ET via Northwell Health’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/NorthwellHealth1)
“We were honored to produce last year’s Side By Side television special during the onset of the coronavirus,” said Executive Producer and NBC personality Al Roker. “I am thrilled to continue the celebration, especially as America emerges from the global pandemic and notably during this 20th year anniversary of the September 11th anniversary. This year feels much different – more celebratory but no less important in realizing that true heroes don’t wear capes, but uniforms of service. We tip our hats to the first responders, healthcare workers, and veterans that put their lives on the line for all of us.”
“I am humbled to once again to be a part of Side By Side and pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much,” said Alfonso Ribeiro, who hosted the inaugural Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ in 2019. “This year we hope to raise funds in support of our military and all those who run towards danger with a night of unforgettable performances, and by sharing stories of perseverance and strength that really demonstrate the resiliency of the community in New York City.”
Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider and private employer, first launched Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ over Memorial Day weekend 2019 in honor of those who have died serving our country, our veterans and active military.
The two-part celebration featured free daytime performances by Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, The U.S. Navy Band and more, along with extraordinary storytelling by veterans. Later that evening, Northwell provided free tickets to hundreds of service members and their families for a special performance by GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum band Imagine Dragons. In 2020, Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ recognized those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic with a Memorial Day television special and a #HealthcareHeroes Concert series that brought back Gavin DeGraw along with performances by Questlove and Meghan Trainor.
“We are forever in debt to our armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedoms,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “We must never forget their service. We will continue to celebrate their efforts, along with all of our first responders and health care workers, who risked everything to save lives after the September 11 attacks and again during this pandemic. We will keep their spirits alive as we prepare not just for a return to normal – but a brighter future for us all.”
Since 2006, Northwell has been serving and supporting active-duty personnel, veterans and their families as a proud, military-friendly employer and provider of both medical care and behavioral health treatment for those struggling with PTSD, while also recruiting and assisting newly returned veterans trying to find a job and acclimate back into civilian life. Northwell hires hundreds of veterans a year, and over the past decade has also awarded about $2 million to employees who were mobilized and deployed overseas – funds that represent the difference between their military pay and the regular salaries they would have earned at their Northwell jobs. In recognition of its efforts, Northwell is ranked as the nation’s seventh top nonprofit employer by the veterans advocacy group “Military Friendly.”
“Side by Side was created to show appreciation for our military, veterans and their families who have selflessly served our country,” said Juan Serrano, assistant vice president of Northwell’s Military Liaison Services. “Along with honoring our health care heroes, we are celebrating everyone who has stepped up to the challenges brought on by the pandemic over this past year, we will remember our 9/11 heroes as 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of those attacks.”
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
To make a donation to Northwell Health’s Military Liaison Services program: