One Pedal at a Time

LinkedIn
Dan Hurd standing behind his bike which has several personal belongings tied to it.

Dan Hurd’s infectious smile and true contentment rests gently with him wherever he goes. But this hasn’t always been the case. There have been many days where the voices of fear, shame, depression, and anxiety have made it hard to smile and trust others.

The years of sexual abuse, PTSD from time served in the military, battling years of painful addictions, and struggling to ever have any real peace eventually lead to him believing this life just wasn’t worth living anymore.

After multiple failed suicide attempts, Hurd was invited to go on a weekend ride with friends that would inevitably change the course of his life forever. Here’s his personal account:

In 2017, I was in a dark place in life. I had tried to commit suicide for the third time and felt like my life was this dark void. After I was released from the hospital, I was in the stage of telling everyone I was better, but deep down, I still had no idea how to change my life or what direction to go in.

My best friend had tried for years to get me to go bicycling with him with no success. He was an avid rider and I never really had the motivation to join him. I rode motorcycles, and in my mind, it would be a downgrade.

This time though, for several reasons, I ended up taking him up on his offer. With nothing to lose, I decided to ride with him and two mutual friends. We rode 20 miles. It felt good in the moment but I still felt the same after. A few days later we rode again. This time 30 miles. Again, in the moment riding felt good, but this feeling of being in a void lingered. What changed everything was the third ride I took with him the following weekend. We took a 166-mile trip.

I remember in the first half falling asleep while riding and barely made it to our destination. What helped me get through was the encouragement of my friend, who told me, “stop worrying about what we’ve done and don’t worry about what we got left; it’s left, right, left, one pedal at a time.” After that trip everything changed.

I realized what got me through it wasn’t worrying about the past or the future but only living in the moment. Taking it “one pedal at a time” became my mantra and my turning point. Hearing that was like someone throwing a glow stick in the void. My void wasn’t as deep as I thought.

I fell in love with bicycling and started planning longer trips. I became addicted, but it was a better addiction then my past choices of alcohol and drugs.

After only a few months of riding, I knew that I needed to do something EPIC.

Cycling proved to be so transformational for Hurd that he decided to sell everything he had, get a bike and begin a journey around the country, visiting fellow veterans he had served with in the Navy. He traveled across 48 states in the continental United States. As the trip went along, it was obvious that it was meant to be more than just a trip to visit friends. The journey totaled 25,000 miles in about three years to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Broken down on a daily basis that’s 22 miles a day, and that’s my dedication to service members that lose their battle every day to suicide,” Hurd said.

His deep passion to share his gift of cycling with others, along with his desire to raise awareness about suicide prevention, was how the One Pedal At A Time Movement was created.

Now after 20+ states and thousands of miles later, you’re invited to be a part of this journey and learn to take life, one petal at a time. Join the movement! #OPAATMOVEMENT

To learn more, visit: ridewithdanusa.com or opaatmovement.com

It’s All About Service: 4 Tips for Finding the Right Entrepreneurial Fit

LinkedIn
man in army service attire standing in front of U.S. flag

By Matt Noe

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.

The Motorcycle Club Helping Wounded Veterans

LinkedIn
The back of an American Infidels motorcycle club member jacket displayed on man in group of other riders greeting each other in a room

By Kellie Speed

What started out with two US Marine veterans in Massachusetts looking for a way to help fellow veterans has turned into a federally recognized war veteran organization with numerous nationwide charters.

“The motorcycle club culture was founded on veterans so we were only trying to get back to our roots,” said James Crosby, who co-founded the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club with Matt Nelson. “We have been able to give people that have lost their way purpose in life and that purpose being in the community and watching out for the people that they care about whether it’s people in the club or their family.

We constructed the Club based on three major points of people’s lives – family, work and club. Those are the three major things that you need to be fully invested in in your life. If you are going to be in the Club, you’re going to need to be able to give the same type of effort to all of these. We were just trying to take the approach that we care and we were able to create this environment that people want.”

Whether the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is organizing nationwide runs for fallen warrior brothers like Mike “Wildman” Kennedy, Rob “Tinkle” Richards and Stephen “Jackel” Jackel, their mission is simple – honor the many freedoms we enjoy, which are “a direct result of the bloodshed on the battlefield by the warriors that have come before us.”

“When I was in Iraq, this was something I had talked about with one of my buddies, Staff Sgt. William Callahan, who unfortunately ended up dying, so he’s part of this story,” Crosby said. “With the American Infidels, Matt and my goal was to create something – a purpose for people, for a portion of the population that signed up to do more for others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. What we do with the Club is we teach people how to get involved in their community and take care of each other. Semper Fi, always faithful – you don’t know what it truly means until you get out. You have no idea what you just signed up for because you just joined the biggest group of families. We are empowering people to stand up, have a voice and work with each other and that’s just what we have done with the Club.”

The Club provides numerous undertakings on behalf of our nation’s veterans. “Each charter must accomplish the mission to stay in the organization or they will be removed,” Nelson added. “Some do free hunting trips, motorcycle runs and benefits that give directly to wounded vets or other vets causes, suicide prevention, career help through our network of friends, politicians and advocates, legal help, navigating healthcare available to vets, and on the day-to-day, we are supporting each other and fellow vets through the hard times of life. That’s probably the most underrated yet most beneficial. Getting people to socialize and help network before the real hard times come upon someone.”

Nelson worked to have the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle American Infidels motorcycle club members on a ride with several riding together in row Club become federally recognized. “Due to our membership criteria, we decided to file officially and follow the federal regulations in regards to 501c19 War Veterans’ Organizations,” he said. “There are two types of 501c19 veterans’ organizations – war veterans’ and veterans’ organizations. We keep 90 percent war time veterans and 10 percent “other,” which includes non-war time veterans and patriots. To put it in a common analogy, we are a step above the American Legion because the Legion is a veteran’s organization, not a war veteran’s organization. Being the latter, we are able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to our organization without the need for a secondary 501c3 regular type charity with more specific guidelines.

It’s a lot of red tape that we’ve done on our own and have recently contracted out to professionals. My proudest moment as one of the founders is when the brothers accomplish a mission. No matter how small. Especially when it’s helping a brother or sister vet in crisis. It’s not easy and it’s urgent so the ability for our network to react is extremely rewarding. Sadly, sometimes we hear of things too late or we just can’t affect the situation in a positive way. Those are the hardest and most discouraging moments. It’s a double-edged sword. Secondarily, when there are great social events and you can see the crowd and brothers having a great time.”

Five Things I Wish Service Members Knew Ahead of Their Civilian Transition

LinkedIn

By Lawren Bradberry, MBA

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.

Remembering America’s Military Heroes this Memorial Day with Ancestry

LinkedIn
Ancestry

This Memorial Day weekend, visit Ancestry® to find those in your family who served our nation and who lived through these remarkable chapters in history. Share your stories on Instagram with #ISaluteFor and tag @Ancestry.

To help everyone find stories to share, from May 28-31 Ancestry is offering free access to:

  • Search more than 550 million military records on Fold3®, covering military conflicts as early as the Revolutionary War.
  •  
  • Personalized stories on Ancestry.com using its StoryScout™ tool which quickly sifts through millions of records and can curate stories about your ancestors to help you make meaningful discoveries with no research needed.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Memorial Day as a federal holiday, Ancestry partnered with Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Combined Arms, and Jewish War Veterans to create a “50 Story Salute,” a joint tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom.

The tribute on Ancestry’s social channels is a curated montage of military heroes through time highlighting powerful stories of strength and hope.

Photo Credit: Ancestry

Help Heal Veterans Hosts #VigilforValor to Honor Military Lost to War and Suicide

LinkedIn
Veteran with PTSD sitting down with hands folded

Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets) will host a month-long virtual candlelight vigil in May to honor service members who have fallen in battle and military members who served honorably in war and fell victim to suicide later due to the invisible scars of combat.

Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit that provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to veterans and active duty military who are suffering from the physical, psychological and emotional wounds of war, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

#VigilforValor kicks off May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness month, and concludes on May 31, Memorial Day. The United States has suffered more than 100,000 military casualties of war since 1950, and in the last 10 years we’ve lost more than 65,000 veterans to suicide.

“Our hope is to shine a light on the remarkable lives of those who have been lost,” said Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Often times we honor the war dead as a group and not as individuals. This year, we want to give people an opportunity to learn about the remarkable lives represented by people who have paid the ultimate price for this country.”

Participants in #VigilforValor will:

1. Create a candleholder, either of their own design or one made from a kit provided by Help Heal Veterans for a $20 donation. (Note: a large number of candle kits will be provided free of charge to select veterans/active-duty service members).
2. Customize the candleholder for the individual they wish to honor with a photograph, drawing, patch or other item. Those who don’t have someone in particular they wish to remember are encouraged to reach out in their community, school, church or search local news to find someone to honor.
3. Light a candle and share a picture of it along with their story on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #VigilforValor so we may pay tribute to them together.

For 50 years, Help Heal Veterans has been using craft therapy to help veterans and active-duty military heal the invisible wounds of war.

“We have seen first-hand the healing power of crafting,” said McClain, “and it has been especially important over the past year, when isolation placed an extra burden on recovering veterans and military and the usual sources of support were not always available or accessible.”

Studies show that crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabilitative benefits, including improving fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, memory and dexterity, and can help alleviate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs.

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organization’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit HealVets.org.

Veterans who are in a crisis and need support can go to https://www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

About Help Heal Veterans
First established in 1971, Help Heal Veterans has provided free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. These craft kits help injured and recuperating veterans improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and substance abuse, cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health. Most of these kits are developed, manufactured and packaged for delivery at our production center headquartered in Winchester, California. Since inception, Help Heal Veterans has delivered nearly 31 million of these arts and crafts kits to veterans and veteran facilities nationwide, along with active duty military overseas.

The 9 Best Job Programs for Veterans Separating in 2021

LinkedIn
cropped view of soldier pointing with finger at laptop in office

Originally posted on Military.com

While 2020 was a lost year for many Americans, it doesn’t have to affect separating military members in 2021. Some veterans programs reorganized their work to fit coronavirus restrictions; others shut down entirely.

But the most effective programs continued their training cycles.

In 2020, we highlighted dozens of organizations that want to train, hire or give veterans a leg up in the job market. These are just the best of the best and are in no particular order, because every veteran has different needs and goals.

Anyone leaving the military in 2021 (and beyond) who doesn’t know where to begin should definitely start here.

1. Federal Agencies

It should be no surprise that the world’s largest employer, the U.S. government, has job openings for veterans. What might be a surprise is just how many agencies want to train them first and even have a pipeline from the military to civilian service.

Whether you’re looking to fight wildfires, become a diplomat at the State Department, bust punks in America’s national parks or be on the front lines of the U.S. homeland security apparatus, there’s a program for you. And although there is no pipeline, veterans preference will still give you an edge when applying to the FBI or even the CIA.

There are also opportunities for wannabe truck drivers through the Department of Transportation, paid internships for would-be park rangers and more.

2. BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program (WIP)

For anyone who’s ever wanted to work for an American defense contractor but didn’t know how to get their foot in the door, this is the jobs program for you. BAE wants veterans to apply before they even leave the military (separated veterans are still welcome) so they can start job training right away.

The program offers on-the-job training at a real BAE location, along with mentorship, guidance through the transitioning process and (of course) a paycheck for three years while learning the job. When your time in the WIP is up, you will be a full BAE Systems employee, just like your coworkers.

Read: This Company Is Now Giving a Total Transition and Jobs Program to Separating Military Members

BAE Systems currently has Warrior Integration Program openings in New Hampshire, Alabama and Texas, but even if you don’t live there, you can still apply.

3. Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS)

Dr. Arthur Langer is a Columbia University professor who runs the nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services. The company brings together major employers such as Prudential, General Electric and HBO, companies that need to fill critical roles. WOS then trains military veterans to fill those positions. From mechanics to Java developers, WOS has a 90% retention rate in U.S. companies.

Read: This Nonprofit Created a Pipeline System for Training and Placing Veterans in Jobs

Any business in America is welcome to come to WOS to fill its vacancies, and any veteran in America is welcome to come find job training and a place to work.

4. Microsoft

Any veteran who’s eager to join the best technical industry in the world but doesn’t know how to guarantee themselves a job should look no further than Microsoft. The tech giant looks to skilled, mature veterans to fill out its critical vacancies through the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA).

Read: Why Corporate Skills Training May Be More Valuable Than a Degree for Veterans

It’s an 18-week “reskilling” program that teaches advanced technical functions in high demand right now. At the end of the program, students will have the chance to interview with Microsoft or other tech giants in need of those valuable skills. Graduates of the program have an 80% retention rate, even without a traditional four-year degree — that’s the benefit of reskilling.

5. Army Career Skills Program (CSP)

Soldiers interested in finding a new career after the Army can look into the Career Skills Program as a means of getting that guaranteed job after leaving the military — and learn their new career while still getting that military paycheck.

Read: This Army Job Training Program Has a 93% Success Rate

Why would the Army pay soldiers to learn to leave? Because the 210 different programs offered by the Army CSP are all critical job functions the service can’t live without, but also can’t seem to find the people to do the job. Who better to work for Big Army than its former soldiers? It’s like living the Army life without the looming threat from the Green Weenie. Soldiers can choose from a slew of jobs, from auto repair to solar energy.

6. Workshops for Warriors

Hernán Luis y Prado of San Diego is a Navy veteran and the founder of Workshop for Warriors. He noticed a distinct lack of skilled trades in the American workforce, a lack he believes could cripple the American economy when the older generation of skilled tradesmen retires. So he started a nonprofit training organization designed to put veterans in those trades.

Read: ‘Workshops for Warriors’ Is Intense, Effective Training for Skilled Manufacturing Jobs

Unlike some of other programs, Workshops for Warriors requires a fee (learning or teaching a skilled trade isn’t cheap), but is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program has a 95% success rate in training and job placement, perfect for any veteran who wants to work with their hands.

7. Carrus

For both military members and spouses interested in health care jobs, Carrus is the place to start. CEO Misty Frost loves the mature soft skills that veterans bring to the industry when starting civilian careers, and that all the hard skills of the health care industry can be taught. So that’s what Carrus is doing.

Read: The Health Care Industry Is Looking for Vets. Here’s How to Get Free Training.

A grant from the Army Credentialing Assistance Program (ACA) allowed Carrus to expand its no-cost, short-term training program for military members and spouses. Anyone interested in free training for a new career in the health care industry should visit CareerStep.com’s Military Page to sign up for more information in the “request info” area of the page.

Read the full article on Military.com.

American Soldier Pleads For Help To Bring Rescued Dog Home

LinkedIn
Sergeant Tiann leans over Millie th dog she wants to rescue upon deplyment

Millie is a mixed breed dog overseas that was rescued by Sergeant Tiann. The soldier has created a long lasting relationship with the dog and is desperate to bring her back to the U.S. with her, now that her deployment is over.

She has reached out to Guardians of Rescue for their assistance in helping to make the relocation happen, and they need donations from the public in order to make it happen.

We could make this a reality, but we need financial support from the community,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an animal rescue organization. “There are a lot of logistics and people that have to come together to make this happen and it’s expensive. Let’s all work together to give Sgt Tiann this wonderful gift of ending a tough year on a high note and going into a new year with a smile.”

Sergeant Tiann found Millie after she had given birth and was nursing. During that time, someone came along and took all the puppies from the mother, leaving her in a vulnerable position. Sergeant Tiann knew that this would leave the dog in danger, so she wanted to do what she could to help her.

Doing all she could for Millie, the two of the formed a relationship based on love and trust. She knows that if she cannot get Millie back to the states to live with her, she will once again be put in danger. They have an inseparable bond and want to be at home together for the holidays.

Overseas dogs are always in danger there and are not treated the same way they are treated here in America. Guardians is asking for help for Sergeant Tiann and Millie to help reunite the two. Transporting a dog across from overseas is something that Guardians of Rescue can help the soldier do, but it’s a costly venture that is also complicated. They will only be able to pull off the mission with the financial assistance from the community to help make it happen.

“Leaving Millie behind is just not an option for me,” says Sergeant Tiann. “She’s become my best friend and we don’t leave our best friends behind and in danger. I appreciate everyone who helps me bring her home with me.”

To make a donation to help bring Millie home to the US where she can live her life with Sergeant Tiann, visit the site at:  https://guardiansofrescue.networkforgood.com/projects/120170-bring-soldier-s-dog-little-millie-to-safety-in-the-us 

Guardians of Rescue provides assistance to active military overseas through the “No Buddy Left Behind” program and investigates animal cruelty cases. It is located in New York, but it helps animals in many places around the country. It is also instrumental in helping military members with their pets. To learn more, get involved, or to make a donation to support the Guardians of Rescue, log onto www.guardiansofrescue.org.

About Guardians of Rescue
Based in New York, Guardians of Rescue is an organization whose mission is to protect the well-being of all animals. It provides aid to animals in distress, including rehabilitation, assisting other rescue groups, and providing support to families, both military and not, who need assistance due to economic factors. To learn more about Guardians of Rescue, visit the site at www.guardiansofrescue.org.

This Christmas Give the Gift of Saving a Soldiers Dog from being Abandoned Overseas, Time Is Running Out

LinkedIn
happy rescue dog smiling at soldier

A soldier’s dog is in urgent need of rescue, or he could be left behind as his soldier is being deployed back to the U.S. from serving overseas.

Due to reduced flights and heighted requirements for animal travel there are just days left to make this rescue happen and keep this soldier and his dog together.

“The United States military does not leave best friends behind. We need your help to reunite them here in America,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “Even small donations will add up to help. We want to give Specialist Lucas the great Christmas present of bringing his dog back home with him.”

When soldiers are deployed they can get lonely, miss home, and become depressed. Every once in a while they are lucky enough to come across a stray animal that they befriend, which brings them happiness. That’s exactly what happened to Army Specialist Lucas, when he came across a dog that he’s now desperate to bring back to the U.S. with him now that his deployment is over.

“I noticed his calmness, he just wanted some love and attention. I love all animals but he was special,” says Specialist Lucas. “I can’t imagine having to leave my best friend behind, God only knows what will happen to him and my heart will be broken.”

The soldier saw the dog walking around, lonely and hungry, near the base where he is stationed. As he considered how he could help, the dog made his way to him, wanting attention. Specialist Lucas decided to name him Boy Dawg, and they instantly made a connection. Each day, the dog would seek him out for attention and food.

Over time, they created a bond that has helped Specialist Lucas during his time being deployed. When he got word that he was going to be sent back home to the states, he couldn’t imagine leaving Boy Dawg behind to forage on his own again. By this point, he considered him part of his family. He reached out to Paws of War to see if they could help him bring his dog back home.

Paws of War has helped numerous soldiers to bring their pets back to the U.S. However, this year the mission is more challenging to pull off. The pandemic has severely limited the number of flights coming from the U.S., especially those allowing dogs. Plus, flights from overseas are costly, and there is a lot of red tape that needs to be addressed and logistics to overcome.

The only way they can successfully bring Boy Dawg home with Specialist Lucas is with financial help from people in the community. They are urgently accepting donations so they can plan the mission and secure the flight.

To see pictures of Specialist Lucas and Boy Dawg or to make a donation, visit the site at: https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/119293-boy-dawg.

Paws of War rescues dogs, provides them with proper training, and then pairs them with veterans who need service animals, all free of charge. They also help soldiers bring their dog back to America after serving in the Middle East. Those who would like to learn more about supporting Paws of War and its mission can go online to: http://pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

Never Settle – How I Took a Leap into the Tech Industry

LinkedIn
Paul Yoon pictured in Army uniform holding a rifle standing in rough terrain

By Paul Yoon

I was in the military for four years. I served in the US Army as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic for the first two, then transitioned to an artillery surveyor.

I gained experience as a radio technician, and also managed and secured transportation for equipment and personnel.

After the military, I became a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for about five years. I had to help my parents with a lot of bills. I had to find work, and law enforcement was hiring quite heavily at the time.

I’ve always had some interest in coding. When I was an adolescent, a couple of my friends and I explored basic HTML and CSS, as well as how to build web and mobile applications. But I grew distant. A lot of my friends became software engineers, and they encouraged me to look into it once my family was more settled.

I had a stable career. I’d just bought a house. I was comfortable. But I had this mental struggle: If I stay here, accept and try to be happy with what I have, I’m settling. Do I want to live with regret, or would I rather take some time, make a few sacrifices and try it out?

Going back to school wasn’t a feasible option for me as I was helping my parents with bills. I needed something quicker and coding bootcamps were popular at the time, so I started researching. I noticed that a lot of them only covered one stack. Coding Dojo split it up into three different stacks, and that was more what I was looking for. I wanted to get my feet wet, understand certain stacks and experiment with them. At the Coding Dojo orientation, the main presenter was very open and welcoming. He was also a veteran – there’s a lot of vets in bootcamps.

Bootcamps are meant to be hard. It’s four years of coursework condensed into about four months. But I realized if I’m going to make this huge jump, I had to reserve a lot of time.

Looking at the material that we covered during the first few days, I knew that if I went home each night and just read a few things, it wasn’t going to be enough. Sometimes the material is hard to understand. I was “that guy” who asked a lot of questions, and I think that’s what helped the most. A couple of my course mates were too prideful. They wouldn’t ask the instructors, or they’d just be stuck on the same thing all day.

MERN was my favorite stack, but Python was close behind. For fun projects and applications, I would use MERN, but for deeper studies, analysis or data, I would use Python. I would’ve preferred to stay away from Java, but it’s a foundational language that is useful to know. Coincidentally enough, the work I’m in uses Java.

After graduation came the job hunt, and COVID-19 had a severe impact. I was competing for entry level jobs against people who were getting laid off as software engineers with years of experience and who were willing to take lower-paying jobs. I told myself I’d rather seek an opportunity to learn and grow than merely look for the highest-paying job. I considered a lot of paid internships, mentorships and entry-level positions. It was a lot of rejection as many apprenticeships and internships got delayed or canceled due to COVID-19.

Then, a company called Twilio finally responded about their Hatch apprenticeship. The process took two and a half months, but it ultimately worked out. I’m now officially a Software Engineering apprentice and learn something new every day.

You have to go in with the mentality that you’re going to be challenged. You have to sacrifice and compromise. Just give it everything you got. The only way to learn and understand the material is to put in the hours. Your family and loved ones will support you.

Having been in the military, making sacrifices was easy for me. I’d usually be the first one in and the last one out. I had a competitive mindset. I knew if my goals and missions were set, I couldn’t leave until I finished. It was comfortable for me to approach people from different backgrounds, being collaborative and working with peers.

The tech industry is huge. There are so many roles that start with coding and development as entry points. If you can find transferable skills similar to web development or software engineering, by all means you should consider making the change. It’s healthy. If you’re in a position where you’re not comfortable and feel like you can do more, it’s never too late. Don’t doubt that.

Top holiday gifts for U.S. Veterans

LinkedIn
four images of holiday gifts including hats and coats

During their service, most members of our military missed holidays with family and friends. Make sure this season is merry and bright with these special gifts picked just for U.S. Veterans.

• Give a gift to disabled veterans all across the nation. The DAV Spare Change program allows you to round up purchases on a credit or debit card to automatically donate your “spare change” to support our America’s heroes. Enroll before you go holiday shopping, and do good with every purchase!

• To strengthen its decades-long relationship with the U.S. military, Ford has launched an online store stocked with holiday ideas. One hundred percent of profits from Ford’s Proud to Honor merchandise will benefit two nonprofit military organizations. Shop for shirts, caps, tumblers and more at ford.com/proud-to-honor/store.

• DAV (Disabled American Veterans) celebrates 100 years of service and support for America’s injured and ill veterans and their families. Pick up some caps, hoodies, pins and more at davstore.org and share in the centennial celebration while supporting our nation’s ill and injured heroes!

• Smells like “oh, cool, we’re moving again.” Light up the holidays with the perfect candle for military wives.

• So many veterans enjoy fishing. Rapala launched an exclusive Americana Collection with items for the rookie novice angler to the gearhead technical angler, like this Rapala® trucker cap featuring a red, white and blue Rapala® logo. A portion of each purchase goes to helping our nation’s veterans. Shop the Americana Collection.

• A&W has a history of raising funds to help provide critical programs and services to veterans and their families at no cost. Treat a veteran to an A&W Root Beer Float this holiday season. Find an A&W location near you.

• Remember, give a gift that keeps on giving. To enroll, shop anywhere and help veterans, visit davsparechange.org or text DAV to 26989. Your spare change can provide big gifts for our disabled veterans.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Lumen

Lumen

Penn State 2021

PENN STATE WORLD CAMPUS

Leidos Video

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Verizon

Verizon Wireless