After Winning Medals In Afghanistan, Veteran Brings Number One Home Inspection Company To Pasadena, CA

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Spencer Velez poses in uniform) in a military vehicle

Spencer Velez knows how to use his expertise and skills. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 14 years. The now 35-year-old deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for superior performance of duties while serving in a direct combat service support role.

As if those achievements weren’t enough, Velez then completed graduate school at the University of Southern California (USC) earning a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree in a program designed to leverage the management and leadership experience gained during military service.

While attending graduate school, he applied these skills to his role in Corporate Compliance with The Walt Disney Company. In that role, he ensured wherever Disney products were manufactured, the workers were provided a safe and inclusive environment.

In May, he added a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise to round out his business skills. Velez will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Alhambra, Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Burbank, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Rosemead, Monterey Park, Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

Spencer Valez smiling in headshot
Spencer Valez, Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

The brand is a favorite among veterans such as Velez. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post Home Inspectors franchisees were military vets. “Pillar to Post provides a service that brings people happiness and positively impacts the community by educating the client about the home – purchasing a home is a big and exciting step and we are a part of that journey,” said Velez. “I have great plans to grow the business to its maximum potential with multiple professional home inspectors and valuable services. I will be a leader built on a reputation of respect and hard work which I learned through my military service.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its 19th year in a row on that list.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit pillartopostfranchise.com.

Why You Should Join an Online Veteran Network

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Serviceman searching online networking on laptop at home, adapting to civilian

by Paige Brown and Veteran David Tenenbaum, director of Heroes Linked

Networking, while not a new concept, has become a significant component of modern life.

Commonly associated with career advancement, the evolution of online social platforms has extended networking far beyond just opportunities to further one’s career.

While networking can be important and beneficial to anyone, it may be even more so for military members, veterans and their spouses.

Former service members are aware of the difficulties that can come from adjusting to life outside of the military. Whether it’s acclimating to a new job title and company or understanding the inner workings of today’s corporate culture, veterans often face obstacles not well-understood by those without similar experiences.

Given this reality, it makes sense for any veteran to start forming connections and building relationships with those who understand their unique point of view.

Here are several ways joining a veteran network can help a service member, veteran or their spouses.

  1. It’s where your battle buddies hang out.

Every service member knows there will be a transition to civilian life, but it impacts everyone differently. Your experiences while in the military, how long you served, where you served, your circumstance upon returning to civilian life – these all come together to form a unique set of circumstances.

For some veterans, leaving the military means leaving a way of life and community behind. Their housing or homes may have been on base or provided by the military. Their food, alcohol, home furnishings, jewelry, or even their car shopping might have been on base, as well as their place of work, socializing and recreational events. The support network is built into each military installation.

There’s also a substantial difference in which attitudes and behaviors are appreciated and sought after in the military versus in the civilian community. The more conversations a member can have with those who have been through or are going through a similar situation, the more they can learn what behaviors from the military should be kept and what should be shed, what’s to be amplified and what’s to be silenced.

Humans are social, relational creatures, meaning the friendships and personal connections we create and foster matter. The difficulty transitioning to civilian life is an all-too-common story. But through the empathy and shared experiences of other veterans in your network, this challenging transition can be made smoother.

  1. You’ll get a better understanding of the civilian work culture.

There aren’t any first shirts, no XOs, no squad leaders, no platoon guides, or section chiefs outside the military. The daily language is practically a foreign language in corporate America and one that’s not easily understood. No one’s reporting at o’dark thirty for required PT, let alone in cadence while double timing. Instead, there’s an entire new lexicon and lingo in the civilian workplace, and mastering it soonest means connecting with new colleagues, with your new tribe, in valuable ways. Trying to make the switch from the military to a role in a company can be one of the greatest and most critical challenges a veteran will face. With a network of fellow vets who have been through comparable situations, it’s likely someone has directly applicable words of wisdom or experiences to offer.

  1. You’ll find a place to build your community and network.

Many service members spend years training and mastering their skills, and even longer using them throughout the world. Their next job and career might not take advantage of those skills. The earlier a member can connect with their future community and learn the culture, terminology and ways of dress and business practice, the better. Within a wide network, there will be plenty of firsthand advice specific to your new role. Beyond the commonalities of military service and transition, a refined network of individuals in the same position and industry offers a valuable resource that you likely won’t find on the job.

  1. They have access to resources and information.

Where a military member is from, where they served, and where they’re going after the military may all be different places. Building an online network means developing real relationships and local knowledge for your next chapter of life—wherever it may take you. Having a vast network of peers available to connect with makes it easier to gain firsthand knowledge about a community that might be a potential next home. It can also provide you with actual connections in that very community, offering an invaluable support system upon arrival.

  1. You get the opportunity to make an impact.

Joining a veteran’s network isn’t only about gaining advice and knowledge. It’s also about giving it. You never know how your experiences might be helpful to someone else. As an advisor or mentor, or potentially even as just an acquaintance or connection, you could be an excellent guide for how someone can best succeed within a new company, school district, soccer league, church, or even a homeowner’s association.

The bonds you make during military service are unique. The unity, camaraderie and shared experience can extend beyond your service and play a role in helping yourself and fellow veterans make the most of life outside of military duty. It just takes a little networking.

Source: VA.gov

3 Career Fields That Require Experience That Veterans Already Have

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Side view of a professional man holding laptop

By Jay Hicks

If you are mid transition, you probably have been told to hone your resume for the job you want. If you’re concerned about relating your military skills to the rest of world, don’t worry.

Here are three great career fields for your career after the military.

LOGISTICS

It’s not just for the loggies anymore! The outlook through 2025 indicates 21% growth for the logistics industry, far better than the national outlook average of 11%.

How many inventories have you been involved with? Have you worked in the NBC or arms room? You know how to order supplies, stock and issue repair parts, clothing and gear utilizing the supply system. You have been responsible for proper transaction follow up and receipt procedures, how to enhance warehouse layout and storage, and the proper operation of the Government Purchase Card Program. You have driven countless miles, performed duties associated with hazardous material control and management, and maintained inventory databases for material stocked in warehouses and storerooms.

You have received expert training from the military for the career field of logistics. Your leadership, planning skills, and adaptability enable you to successfully transition into this great career field as a logistics manager. So how do you get started?

First, your skill set needs to be translated and repackaged so that hiring managers can quickly understand who you are. Second, you may need to get a certification, but not necessarily a four-year degree. However, a minimum of a High School (HS) Diploma or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), and Mail Systems Management Association all provide logistics certifications for veterans interested in getting ahead in the commercial supply career field.

If you decide to take a deeper dive into commercial logistics, read “The Transitioning Military Logistician” which is part of the “Transitioning Military Series”, available on Amazon and at AAFES.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

You may be unaware, but you already are a Project Manager! If you enjoy planning, scheduling, and executing operations, your future career path could be project management. Your leadership and planning skills and your adaptability, ingrained during military service, will enable you to successfully transition into project management. Action officer, training officer, operations planner, commander, platoon sergeant, are all military terms that equate to project manager in the commercial world. Best of all, project management spans all industries.

Project Management pays well, provides for a definitive career ladder, and has a very positive future. Nearly 12 million project management related jobs will be added globally by 2022. Further, the average salary in the US for Project Managers with 5 years’ experience is nearly $100,000. You can expect a 16% bump with the coveted Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification.

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® is the certifying body for the PMP. It is a great organization to belong to during your transition and certification process. You can enhance your network with project managers in commercial industry while attending meetings and learning about the career field. Further, many local chapters have a PMI Military Liaison that can assist you with your certification process and link you to mentors.

You do not need a degree to be a project manager, but you may need experience and certification. If you lack experience, get certified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®. The PMP®, recognizes demonstrated experience, skill and performance in leading and directing projects. An excellent resource for learning more about this exciting career field is “The Transitioning Military Project Manager”, part of the “The Transitioning Military Series”.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)

The outlook for the IT career field is incredibly positive. The IT industry continues to enjoy unfettered growth, as the IT career field will grow 13% over the next 4 years. Glassdoor states the national average for IT salaries is currently over $69,080 per year. Computers and information systems managers should expect a 15% growth through 2022, with a median salary over $120,000 per year.

Your IT skills from the military are transportable and desirable! There is an increasing demand for skilled IT professionals, enabling you to launch into the lucrative career. You may start out as a technician, but as you develop, you could end up as the CIO, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or Chief Operations Officer (COO). Another lucrative path is cybersecurity, which is needed for all functions and jobs within IT. Either direction, you will be heavily rewarded for years to come.

An additional way to gain a more in-depth understanding of the IT career field, is by reading “The Transitioning Military Information Technology Professional” or “The Transitioning Military Cybersecurity Professional”, which are both components of the “Transitioning Military Series,” both available at AAFES and on Amazon.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Retaining & Reporting Veteran Employees

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man pointing to a checkmark on a 3-d glass image

Veterans are extremely loyal to an organization. What is good for your veteran population is also good for any employee.

However, if the environment does not meet veterans’ needs, they tend to leave an organization quicker than their non-veteran counterparts.

Reporting and identifying veterans
Most organizations are now voluntarily counting veterans but some have encountered difficulties with self-reporting. Instead of asking employees, “Are you a veteran?” ask, “Have you ever served in the U.S. military?” Some veterans do not identify as such because they served in peacetime, or for other reasons.

Some federal contractors have specific reporting requirements (on form VETS-4212) and affirmative action obligations under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act of 1974 (known as “VEVRAA” or “Section 4212”).

Find answers to frequently asked questions at dol.gov/agencies/vets/ programs/vets4212.

Important to retaining veteran employees:
✪ Challenging/engaging opportunity
✪ Clearly stated expectations of the position
✪ Known pathway for advancement in the current position and organization
✪ A mentor (preferably a veteran) on arrival, as well as an onboarding program specific to veterans, can help them integrate and adjust to the organization’s culture
✪ Clear and open verbal and written communication. Veterans are used to hearing from their leadership, usually in person
✪ Career professional development
✪ Impact on the organization – veterans want to know what they aredoing has “meaning”
✪ Compensation and benefits

Source: dol.gov

Bonding assistance program seeks veteran-owned businesses

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man woring in protective vest working on construction site near a ladder

By Angela Gibson-Shaw, President, AG & Associates

General engineering contractor Rod Edison had a dream of landing a big construction contract.

Owner of Max Out, a demolition, site work, grading, asphalt and concrete paving and masonry company, Edison had been successful in obtaining medium-sized contracts and being a subcontractor. With Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) having an excess of $200 billion in construction projects in the works, Edison’s goal was to elevate his business to the next level by subcontracting with a prime contractor on a major infrastructure project.

To protect public tax dollars, public agencies require contractors to have a performance bond equal to the cost of all contracts exceeding a certain threshold in order to bid on projects with certain public agencies. The performance bond is a way to ensure that the work will be completed. If a contractor fails to perform the work, or pay other costs associated with the contract, the insurance company furnishing the bond will guarantee the fulfillment of the contract.

“One of the main barriers to growth for small construction companies—and small businesses in general—is getting bonding and working capital,” said Lakeisha Bearden, Program Development Manager for Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services (MWIS), a risk management and insurance brokerage service company.

“Qualifying for a Payment and Performance bond is a rigorous and thorough process whereby insurance companies look for evidence of credit, capacity and character in order to extend surety credit and often may require collateral from the contractor as well. For the larger contracts, many small businesses simply don’t have the resources on their own to be eligible for bonding they need.”

MWIS has been the link between public entities seeking to expand opportunities for small and local businesses and qualified businesses for over two decades. The California-based insurance agency was recently awarded the contract with L.A. Metro to administer a Contractor Development and Bonding Program (CDBP). The CDBP assists Metro-certified Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise (DVBE) firms secure sufficient bonding to work on Metro construction projects

The CDBP provides contractors and subcontractors like Edison that are looking to work on Metro projects, but are unable to secure the necessary bonding required to bid on public works projects, an avenue to secure the necessary bonding.

Currently, MWIS is actively seeking veteran business owners to participate in the CDBP. L.A. Metro has established a goal of 3 percent DVBE participation on non-federally funded projects. All bidders on L.A. Metro’s non-federally funded projects must meet this participation goal and provide the DVBE’s name and dollar amount committed to that business in order to be considered for the contract award.

A firm’s participation in the CDBP will not only include assistance with obtaining or increasing bonding capacity and collateral support for bid, performance and payment bonds, but will also include technical support, education, training and contractor support. The maximum bond guarantee is up to $250,000 or 40 percent of the value of the contract, whichever is less.

As the administrator of L.A. Metro’s CDBP, MWIS provides contractor assessments, one-on-one consultations and works with contractors enrolled in the program every step of the way. Once a contractor is awarded a contract, MWIS provides a dedicated field support project manager to assist contractors with any technical issues that may arise.

In business since 2001, Edison had the experience and skills necessary to do a large construction project but lacked the required collateral to secure a bond from an insurance company. After completing the CDBP, Edison was able to increase Max Out’s bonding capacity. With each successful contract completed, he gained access to new work opportunities.

After their successful performance with construction giant Skanska, one of the largest construction companies in North America, Edison was offered a second contract on the same project, which increased the company’s project sales to $700,000. Since then, Max Out has been requested to complete additional projects, including Metro’s multibillion-dollar Regional Connector project.

“Our participation in the CDBP enabled us to network with prime contractors that we would not have otherwise been able to meet,” said Edison.

For more information on bonding eligibility and bonding programs for small businesses and disabled veterans, email MetroCDBP@imwis.com.

Learning to Pivot Together When the Going Gets Tough

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The Rosie Network Logo Shield with woman in bandana holding her arm up in a strength position

By Leona Sublett, CEO, The Rosie Network

Looking back at the early days of March and onset of COVID19, few knew the impact the virus would have on the nationwide shutdown and the thousands of military entrepreneurs and their families looking to launch or grow their business.

As storefronts shuttered, offices closed and many small business owners scrambled to seek assistance through PPE loans, many new to the entrepreneurial space questioned if this was the right time to even launch a business. With a nationwide network of thousands of military entrepreneurs—spouses, veterans and transitioning service members to serve—in true Rosie the Riveter fashion, shutting doors and putting a hold on service was not an option for The Rosie Network team.

In fact, now more than ever, this was the time to stay connected—leveraging the power and strength of the community we serve, along with today’s technology—to be that accountability partner who’s there for them at all stages of their business. We recognized early on that despite physical distancing this connection would be needed, and what would be needed even more was the no-cost support, training and networking that our mission as a nonprofit was built on. In order for The Rosie Network to continue to successfully support our entrepreneurs, who we believed were at the heart of our nation’s economic recovery, we had to rise to the challenge and make the pivot quickly to a virtual environment across all of our chapters nationwide.

And rise, we did. Our leadership team across the nation came together and rolled out our Service2CEO curriculum in a virtual platform across all of our Rosie and Warrior Chapter current cohorts, not missing a single session during this challenging time. In fact, not only did The Rosie Network not experience any interruption in the delivery services, the cost was minimal, and surprisingly, the impact and reach expanded during this time. Our scheduled Rosie Chapter Open Houses and Cohort graduations and pitch events went off without a hitch in this new virtual environment; we hosted a virtual Veteran Business PopUp event, and launched our Rosie Talks Entrepreneurial Series. What we learned, together with our military entrepreneurs, is that with challenge comes opportunity. As entrepreneurs, we must always look at the ability to see opportunity by looking at ways to pivot based on economy, disaster and just simple market climate to stay successful.

As a nonprofit, we rely one hundred percent on the generosity of American companies and individuals to continue our mission. During the last few months, we’ve been fortunate to continue to receive funding in order to expand our chapters, as we are set to launch five additional Rosie and Warrior Chapters in 2021. Our impact in this short time has been close to 1,500 served, with our Rosie Talks views at nearly 1,000 and our graduation event views at 2,500. Our retention rate has not dropped and due to need, our Service2CEO program applicants has increased. In addition, nominations for our Annual Veteran/Military Entrepreneur National Awards has increased 10-fold.

The key to this success in the pivot of services has been in large part due to the culture of the community we serve—military families. Much like a change in duty station, deployment or any other event that comes with serving our country, our military entrepreneurs took this challenge in stride, and with the strength and the determination to move forward together during this time of economic recovery.

For military entrepreneurs (spouses, veterans and transitioning service members) looking to launch or grow a business, The Rosie Network offers a 12-week, no cost virtual Service2CEO training at Rosie and Warrior Chapters nationwide. Applications are available on our website, along with details on our Rosie Talks calendar and upcoming Military Entrepreneurial Awards. Sponsorships are available to donors looking to partner with The Rosie Network in building the next generation of military entrepreneurs and business owners. For more information, visit therosienetwork.org.

As the daughter of an Army Veteran who served in Germany after WWII, Leona Sublett is a lifelong patriot who brings a unique blend of more than 25 years of non-profit, private and public industry, and entrepreneurial leadership and experience to The Rosie Network (TRN). As an entrepreneur and small business owner, she is honored to serve in her role of leading the development, grant acquisition and reporting for TRN.

From Section Leader to Software Engineer

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Cody Baerman pictured with his wife in him fatigues

How I utilized my G.I. Bill benefits to launch a career in coding.

By Cody Baermann

I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years as a section leader in the infantry. I supervised training for a team of 20, identified and worked on potential deficiencies in our unit, and was a direct adviser to senior management. I was stationed in Afghanistan, behind a machine gun. It was a very different world.

Before I got into coding, right after getting out of the Marine Corps, I was a full-time college student. I was going job to job and was having a hard time deciding exactly what I wanted to do. I changed my major three times – from chemistry to electrical engineering to biology. The only common denominator in all those majors was that they all required a basic coding class.

My wife and I sat down to discuss the aspects of school that I enjoyed the most. All things pointed toward coding. One of the biggest appeals to me is having the ability to create whatever I want – having that freedom to make visualizations come to life. Our daughter was very young, so there was the aspect of my family leaning on me.

From a financial perspective, many coding bootcamps are covered under GI Bill benefits, including Coding Dojo. It was an all-or-nothing situation – just believing in my abilities, and knowing as a family we would work out.

Coding Dojo had an introductory platform they strongly suggested learning: basic algorithms, getting used to the syntax of code. After that, we built programs, which was a whole different level of coding. I did the “follow-alongs” to get the programs to work.

The biggest obstacle I hit was understanding the syntax in the C# track. In those times, if the material doesn’t immediately make sense, you have to put in the work hours. Coding bootcamp is very condensed – you have to put in the time if you want to succeed. It involved a lot of repetition, reworking the same assignments, until the material cemented in my brain.

Coding Dojo had a “20/20 rule”: Stay with a problem for 20 minutes, then ask a partner to help you figure it out. If the two of you can’t do that after 20 minutes, then ask an instructor. The rule promotes teamwork. Once you get into software engineering and development, that’s an important skill to have. There was never a time we felt the coursework was too much, because there was always someone to lean on and solicit help from.

I was anxious as graduation approached. Obviously, with a family, I wanted to get employment right away, so I put the pressure on myself. I sent the same resume to every company – which isn’t the soundest strategy. The key is looking closely at the job description, noting the language they use, incorporating those words, and then tailoring some of your personal projects to that job. Having multiple projects that you can interchange on a resume is important. If you’re applying for a Python developer position, instead of just having one Python project on there, you should list two or three. It proves how well-versed you are in that language.

After a while in the job hunt, Amazon Web Services came out of the blue and they moved very quickly. The second they got in contact, everything just took off. I did a Chime interview, and then after three or four days, I got a phone call with the job offer. It was a big stress reliever to get that call.

When you’re in a military bootcamp, you don’t have a choice to be there. You wake up whenever they want to wake you up, doing whatever they want you to do. In coding bootcamp, you are in charge of your own success. You have to get up and make yourself do it. You have to be self-accountable to succeed; if you don’t, it’s going to be difficult.

The best approach is to be focused and put in the long hours. The more you learn, the easier getting a job will be. You’re going to coding bootcamp to better your life and your family’s future. There will always be self-doubt and challenges. It’s not easy jamming years of learning into just a few months. But once I got going, there was never a point when I thought I couldn’t do it. You just have to fight your way through and be mentally strong. That’s the nature of coding.

Hives for Heroes Helps Veterans Transition Through Beekeeping

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Beehive workers with protective clothing gathered around tree

Hives for Heroes is a national veteran non-profit organization focusing on honey bee conservation, suicide prevention, and a healthy transition from service.

Through the national network of beekeepers and veterans, we provide purpose, education, and healthy relationships fostering a lifelong hobby in beekeeping.

“Hives for Heroes started in Houston, Texas with a small team of dedicated individuals who have become family,” said Steve Jimenez, a founding mentor in Texas. “We have quickly grown into a nationwide organization seeking to serve the next veteran in their local community. The outreach and support from the beekeepers, veterans, and others interested in supporting has been humbling and greatly appreciated.”

Beekeeping is unique, allowing a beekeeper to suit up, overcome fear, accomplish a goal through process-oriented techniques, and walk away with a sense of accomplishment. This practice can easily translate to their personal and professional lives when dealing with PTS and other traumas from service. While there is often a fear associated with bees, when you are careful and respect them, they will continue with their work.

NewBEE veterans and mentors enjoy the therapeutic process of beekeeping and build healthy relationships in communities across America. After military service, many veterans often fall into depression, unhealthy relationships and addictive behaviors which leads to feeling alone, isolated, or become suicidal. Hives for Heroes strives to connect with them to provide a family-friendly community.

“I was medicating myself with lots of alcohol for quite some time,” said Jason Meeks, a mentor in New Mexico. “I was on a path that was going to end bad. I quit the bottle and took up smoking bees. I just wanted a few hives to play with and now I have around 40.”

Healther Aronson, a NewBEE in Texas, says, “Sometimes it gets difficult to unjumble my thoughts and quiet my mind. Working with the bees helps me recenter myself by focusing on their care and needs instead of the stress of the world around us. Plus, it has become an excellent family activity that we can all take part in together.”

Through the nationwide network of beekeepers, Hives for Heroes is able to connect and empower veterans in their pursuit of purpose and joy. By bettering the lives of individuals, there is a positive impact on their community and ultimately the world. Through honey bee conservation, there is a common goal for NewBEEs, mentors, and volunteers to work towards.

“Both of my grandfathers served in the Army,” said Morgan Hill, a volunteer in Texas. “During college, I was a civilian employee of the Army. I love connecting with and hearing each person’s story of resilience and how they are finding peace through beekeeping. “

Please check out our website, hivesforheroes.com, for ways to get involved and support Hives for Heroes through donations, merchandise sales from our shop, or volunteering!

Veterans interested in beekeeping as a NewBEE, and mentors willing to connect and teach veterans, can apply online at hivesforheroes.com/the-hive. Hives for Heroes is expanding rapidly nationwide and is constantly searching for accomplished beekeeping mentors who have at least 3 years of experience.

Check us out @hivesforheroes on social media and use our hashtags #saveBEESsaveVETS #BEEaHero.

Captain Remoshay R. Nelson – the Thunderbirds’ First Black Female Officer

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All across the country, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing flyovers to honor the workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the team’s newest members is a Howard University graduate and the first black, female officer.

Captain Remoshay R. Nelson is the Public Affairs Officer for the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. As Thunderbird 12, she leads the team’s extensive marketing, publicity and community relations programs. Nelson is in her first season with the team.

“The opportunity to be on the Thunderbirds is an absolute honor because I get the opportunity to represent the 693,000 total force Airmen who make up the Air Force and are working hard around the globe in defense of our nation,” said Capt. Nelson. “It is also a great privilege to share my personal story and those of countless other Air Force minorities with the public. By doing so, it is my hope that young boys and girls, especially Black girls are inspired and understand that there are many Air Force leadership opportunities available to them and they can become leaders in whatever field they desire.”

Nelson entered the Air Force in 2011 with a Reserve Officer Training Corps commission from Howard University. She served as a diversity recruiter in the Gold Bar Program before completing the public affairs qualification course at Fort Meade, Md. Following training, she was assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, as the chief of media operations. Nelson then served in public affairs assignments in Turkey, Botswana and various locations in Europe. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, she was the Chief of Public Affairs, 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

Nelson’s position is a highly selective one. She is only one of 12 Thunderbird officers. Since the team’s inception in 1953, only 332 officers have made the cut.

“Women have been an integral part of the Thunderbird team for decades,” Capt. Nelson said. “These women, including minorities, have all worked hard to build and maintain a tradition of excellence. It’s that heritage that has given me this exciting responsibility of being the first Black female officer.

This is Nelson’s first season with the Air Force Thunderbirds squadron. While most of their shows have been cancelled or postponed to next year due to the coronavirus, the team has conducted flyovers across 9 states including California to pay tribute to people battling the pandemic.

Source: eurweb & blackenterprise.com 

Fly Over Image Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sean M. White)

Stand-alone image credit: US Air Force Photo by TSgt Ned Johnston

Veteran transforming lives through local apprentice program

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Roger Hermeling Headshot

U.S. Veterans Magazine recently had the chance to interview Air Force veteran Roger Hermeling about the apprentice program.

USVM: Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
RH: After graduating high school, I went to Bowling Green State University and graduated as a Second Lieutenant commission from the USAF ROTC program. In my 20+ years in the Air Force, I served as Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) on B-52 crews at Loring AFB and Plattsburg AFB.

In Vietnam, I volunteered to be an F-105 EWO in the Wild Weasel program, which was a very select group of elite fliers who put their lives on the line to take down radars guiding Soviet missiles. The program had a 45% loss rate and I still vividly recall one mission where I hit two enemy airplanes. My pilot and I barely escaped.

I completed my active duty in 1982 and then got my master’s degree from Golden State University during my assignment at Langley AFB. My first job after USAF retirement was with Hughes Aircraft Company at Fullerton, CA as Survivability Project Management for the F-117 aircraft.

In addition, I worked for Northrup B-2 program, to provide mission analysis on how to employ the aircraft against high priority targets. Later, I worked for Raytheon Munitions Division and SAIC to find ways to employ their munitions and market their products.

Later in my career I wanted an opportunity to put my military training and experience into practice, so I started working at local community centers in my home state of Texas to help students earn their GEDs. That experience ultimately led me to my current role with SSC Services for Education, where I oversee an Apprenticeship Program as the Director of Training and Procedure.

USVM: Can you tell us about the SSC apprenticeship program that you run?
RH: I spearheaded the Apprenticeship Program in May of 2016. The program is designed to help students, some of whom are Veterans, develop vocational skills for jobs that are in great demand, such as an air conditioning technician or an electrician, so they can find success once the program is complete.

The SSC Apprenticeship Program is a tough one. The four-year apprentice program requires apprentices to take 576 hours of maintenance system operations and log 8,000 hours of on the job training.

The program first started at Texas A&M where I’m located, but we have doubled the program size with 15 apprentices at College Station, TX and a total of 14 more in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Commerce, Prairie View and Tarleton State, TX.

USVM: How did your military background prepare you for your current role at SSC?
RH: The leadership experience I gained in the Air Force has shaped how I approach every situation both personally and professionally. During my tour at the Fighter Weapons School I was tasked to develop a program syllabus, provide aircrew qualifications, provide classes and flight evaluations for 36 F-4 Wild Weasel aircrews. The situations you’re thrown into in the military give you a crash course in responsibility, accountability, flexibility and teach you how to make critical decisions on the fly.

USVM: What have been your top three accomplishments in your time running the program?
RH: For me, my proudest moments are when I see my students complete the training program. I have graduated nine apprentices from the four-year program and knowing that I helped them find their career calling means the world to me.

Another moment that stands out is when I was able to help three former students, who were also Veterans, get pay bonuses through the VA. I heard about the opportunity, suggested it to them and guided them through the process of applying. I was excited to hear they were all able to get their well-deserved bonus!

Additionally, I’m proud to have helped SSC apply for grants that assist with funding the Apprentice Program. So far, I have secured over $1M in grants. It is a great feeling knowing I can help keep these great programs moving strong for years to come.

USVM: Why would you encourage someone to join the apprenticeship program?
RH: These are the jobs of the future. I often tell students that these jobs are in high demand and pay better than certain careers you can earn with a bachelor’s degree. I would tell any prospective student to consider the numerous benefits of a skilled trade job – it might be the perfect fit for their career.

USVM: What is one piece of advice you have for other Veterans returning to civilian life looking for employment?
RH: Many core values you learn in military service are useful no matter the career path. Responsibility, teamwork, hard work and determination; these are all areas valuable in civilian life. Look at what you learned and see where it can help you in your next endeavor. Trade-licensed professionals are in high demand, well-paid, have job security and projections for tradesman are increasingly positive.

U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission Launches a “November Salute” to Celebrate the Lives of America’s Servicemen and Women, Past and Present

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In recognition of Veterans Day and the millions who have served in our nation’s military, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission recently announced the launch of the America 250 November Salute, a month-long celebration of veterans, active duty military and their families.

“We wouldn’t be celebrating the 250th Anniversary of our nation without the brave service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and all those who have worn our nation’s uniform,” said Dan DiLella, Chairman of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. “We hope the November Salute offers all Americans the opportunity to remember, thank, and honor the men and women who defend our freedoms and democracy.”

Throughout the month, Americans will have the opportunity to submit a photo of themselves or their loved ones to an online photo mashup generator, with America 250 branded photo filters commemorating the service of veterans, active duty military and in remembrance of those who have gone before us. The filtered image will be available for the user to download and display in an online “Gallery of Salutes” for all Americans to see and enjoy.

Americans will be able to submit their photos beginning November 1, 2020 through the end of the month on www.NovemberSalute.America250.org. The full Gallery of Salutes will also be available on the America 250 website, www.america250.org. As an official program of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, photos from the America 250 November Salute will be shared with the U.S. National Archives.

“In the lead up to America’s 250th birthday in 2026, the service of our nation’s heroes and their families will be an incredibly important theme,” added DiLella. “We look forward to establishing additional activations and partnerships that honor, recognize and celebrate their important role in the history and future of our country.”

Officially known as the United States Semiquincentennial, “America 250” will be the most expansive and inclusive milestone in our nation’s history. During the official commemorative period beginning this year and culminating on July 4, 2026, America 250 has the opportunity to engage nearly 350 million Americans and millions more friends worldwide through engaging programs, educational outreach and signature events. More information about the Commission’s vision and approach to programming can be found in Inspiring the American Spirit, its report submitted to the President on December 31, 2019.

About U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission

The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission was established by Congress to inspire all Americans and each American to participate in our greatest milestone ever—the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States. The Commission is charged with orchestrating the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance in our nation’s history. The Commission will work with public and private entities across the country to make America 250 a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all Americans. For more information visit www.america250.org and visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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