Construction Companies Offer Strong Parallels for Veteran Employment

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A man looking out on a construction site

By Phil Panzarella, Chief Growth Officer, Easterseals DC MD VA

When veterans transition from the military to civilian life, organizations work to break down barriers, engage communities and connect veterans with what they need for meaningful employment, education and wellness. Community services are needed to ensure unmatched, accessible and indispensable resources and support for veterans to ensure they successfully transition to civilian life.

Veteran services provided by Easterseals’ national network of 68 affiliates focus on developing inclusive programs, including valuable training for veterans to leverage their skills to secure meaning employment.

“Easterseals has been delivering critical services to veterans and military families since the end of WWII,” says Angela Williams, National President and CEO of Easterseals, and herself a veteran. “We continue to be the ‘go to’ resource for them to help ensure their successful transition to civilian life.”

Historically, veteran employment programs are funded by the government, which in many cases lead to veterans falling through the cracks. Easterseals DC MD VA recognized this significant problem and established the Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), a meaningful innovation in the world of nonprofit service delivery. The VSN provides job search training and career coaching for veterans and military spouses.

While the VSN assists veterans’ search for employment in all industries, construction industry connections have yielded great success in matching skills to opportunities. There are established parallels that exist between the military and construction skill sets, and many candidates have qualities that construction companies would value such as flexibility, dependability and accountability.

Military service trains veterans to be problem solvers, team-orientated, safety-conscious and respectful of the same kinds of hierarchical structures that exist in the world of construction. Ultimately, there are great benefits to be realized by employing those who understand the overarching aspects of complex projects. The attributes offered by veterans are a result of military service that directly mirrors day-to-day construction operations.

According to a study performed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IMVF) of Syracuse University, veterans stay at their jobs 30 percent longer than their civilian counterparts. Countless careers in the construction industry are built around operations, and job loyalty creates a smoother operational base for long-term projects. Looking at the broader military universe, veterans are often qualified at the operations management level; they are accustomed to following complex plans, working collaboratively with teams, interacting with all aspects of diverse cultures and making things happen efficiently. Operational leadership is most often found in the enlisted corps as officers are trained for tactical leadership, senior management and operations execution. They lead the deployment of assets, oversee labor resources and develop strategic plans and relationships.

But in order for veterans to deliver their best work, companies must be willing to provide job training. Recognizing that veterans are highly experienced at learning quickly and deploying effectively, training programs are essential and valuable for 18-26-year-olds transitioning to civilian life.

Unbeknownst to most, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a product of the construction industry. To meet the prerequisites required to take the PMP exam today, one must have a background in project management. Many veterans leave the military with those skill sets, and nonprofit veteran organizations are there to help them identify that experience and prepare them to leverage opportunities. A veteran interested in learning whether they qualify should engage with an organization like the Easterseals VSN.

While working to connect veterans to meaningful employment, the VSN simultaneously works with construction companies and their veteran employees to create veteran-friendly workplace cultures. In general, creating a robust military culture is an organizational lift. One key aspect of such a culture is the appointment of an executive champion, who can drive the “we proudly employ veterans” message to a variety of external and internal communities, both horizontally and vertically.

Best practices that demonstrate veteran-friendliness include establishing veteran-specific links and landing pages on corporate websites, pushing job postings to channels that veterans often visit, and ensuring presence at job fairs aimed specifically for veterans seeking employment. With all that said, it’s incumbent upon the company to provide its recruiting teams with training on how to speak a veteran’s language.

Engaging with an organization that can assist with employment and help to establish the right program is a great first step to creating a veteran-friendly culture. The construction industry is an ideal area of employment for veterans to cultivate their top-tier talents in order to find their passions. By providing workplace diversity, construction companies create attractive careers for veterans interested in taking their next step in life.

To learn more about the Veteran Staffing Network, click here.

Best Careers for Military Spouses

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military spouse and husband smiling in the kitchen

By Navy Federal

Military spouses often face hiring challenges due to their spouse’s occupation, and the global pandemic has exacerbated this even more. The unemployment rate of military spouses is nearly three times greater than the national average. According to Navy Federal’s research, 13% of military spouses are unemployed, and 43% of military spouses are under-employed. In both unemployment and under-employment, military spouses cited specific challenges around relocation, childcare responsibilities and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a military spouse myself, I know that military spouses face unique employment challenges that make securing a sustainable, long-term career very difficult,” said Matt Vean, Commercial Banking Lead at Navy Federal Credit Union. “This Best Careers list offers deeply-researched insights that this community can turn to for advice and direction as they take the next step in their employment journey.”

Research & Results

To help them navigate these challenges and enjoy long-term career success, we conducted more than 2,000 online interviews with military spouses both within Navy Federal’s current membership and in the general population earlier this year. We found that this community requires flexible hours/schedule, competitive compensation, a clear career advancement path, a consistent work location (either in-person or remote), a team-oriented work environment and flexibility in childcare options.

We then partnered with Hire Heroes USA® to identify industries and career paths that meet the values that matter most to this community.

“Although military spouse employment is being talked about more and more, there is still work that can be done. Military spouses are reporting they are looking for stability and flexibility across all industries according to the Best Careers list and data,” said Amy Dodson, a military spouse and Human Resources Manager at Hire Heroes USA. “I encourage military spouses to utilize employment resources that are tailored specifically to their unique needs, leverage volunteer work to build a career and search for companies that have military spouse hiring initiatives.”

With this in mind, here are the top 10 industries we identified as best for military spouses.

Government & Public Administration. No surprise here, but having a stable job is one of the most important qualities military spouses look for in a career. Government and Public Administration roles provide spouses with just that and more! In fact, nearly half (46%) of military spouses currently working in this industry plan to keep their job until they retire. Other important benefits of this industry are flexible scheduling and working for an organization that supports military service as employees. Some of the most popular career paths include analyst, manager or supervisor, support worker, or lawyer. Of note, the analyst is the role best suited for frequent relocation via permanent change of station (PCS).

Business Support & Human Resources. Military spouses seek out a meaningful career and job that allows flexibility in childcare options and moving locations, which aligns well with Business Support and Human Resource positions. These roles also provide flexibility for families who experience a PCS. Some of the most popular career paths include administrative assistant, secretary, analyst, support worker or recruiter. This career path is a relatively new industry of interest for military spouses, with two-thirds (66%) currently in this industry having been in their position for up to 2 years.

Health Care & Social Assistance. One in ten military spouses are employed in the health care field. Military spouses desire this industry because it provides a meaningful career, offers stability and has competitive compensation. There are a wide range of roles that military spouses can explore in Health Care & Social Assistance; a few potential job functions include becoming a nurse, therapist, health caregiver, dental hygienist, pharmacy technician or medical assisting personnel.

Educational Services. The Educational Services industry aligns well with military spouses’ desires for mission-driven environments, work-life balance and stable careers. Some of the most popular career paths include becoming a teacher or instructor, education counselor, support worker, manager, or supervisor in education administration. For military spouses who regularly experience PCS or plan a PCS in the future, the role of support worker is particularly flexible for changing locations.

Information Technology. With everything becoming increasingly digitized, careers in the Information Technology space have seen a rise in popularity. The great news is that these job functions are a good fit for military spouses because they provide a meaningful, stable career that allows them the flexibility to change locations with ease. There are a wide range of roles that military spouses can explore in IT; a few potential job functions worth exploring include software or web developer, manager or supervisor, computer programmer, network analyst, database administrator, or information security personnel.

Financial Services. Financial Services is a popular career path, particularly among military spouses in urban areas. Military spouses appreciate a stable career with a clear advancement path and competitive compensation specifically within this industry. What’s more, over half (56%) of military spouses employed in this industry agree that their current job offers them a clear path for advancement. Some roles within this industry include accountant, bank teller, service representative, project manager, claim adjuster or credit analyst. A financial institution that understands the military lifestyle is most likely willing to help military spouses in these roles maintain their careers as they PCS.

Defense Contracting. Military spouses often find Defense Contracting to be a good fit, citing that the work is meaningful, supports military service as employees and offers flexible hours and schedules to fit their needs. Military spouses can explore a wide range of roles in Defense Contracting. A few potential job functions best suited for military spouses include being an architect, analyst, project manager or engineer. Project managerial roles are great for spouses of Active Duty servicemembers, as there’s greater flexibility for families experiencing PCS.

Community-Based Services. Community-Based Services roles are most popular for military spouses 55 and up. Why do they like this industry? These spouses can achieve a work-life balance while contributing positively to the greater good. They serve a purpose every day and are passionate about their work. Some of the most popular career paths include social services, administrative support services, religious services or church workers, program management, general management, training, instructing, or teaching.

Retail & Customer Service. Retail & Customer Service ranks on our list due to its flexible work schedule, team-oriented work environment, and creative or strategic opportunities available. The importance of flexibility in Retail cannot be overstated: over one-third (34%) of military spouses rank flexibility as the first thing they look for in an ideal job. Job functions within this sector include cashier, salesperson or customer service representative. The customer service representative role is especially flexible for military spouses who may experience or are experiencing PCS.

Manufacturing. Rounding out our top 10 list of careers for military spouses is Manufacturing, as spouses are attracted to competitive compensation, flexibility, and creative or strategic opportunities in their job. Some roles within this industry include assembler, brazer or welder, machinist or operator, production manager, or quality control inspector.

Planning for a career also means having a financial plan to match. There are different insurance and retirement savings options as a military spouse and specific considerations your family needs to take into account at each step in your spouse’s military career. Navy Federal Credit Union is proud to offer tools, tips and resources to help military spouses succeed in their career search and continue their financial literacy.
More Resources

Navy Federal has presented its “Best Of” lists every year since 2018. In 2018, we developed the first iteration of the Best Cities After Service list. In 2019, Navy Federal developed Best Careers After Service, a comprehensive list of the best careers that will make the transition from Active Duty to civilian life more successful. Last year, Navy Federal published Best Cities After Service 2.0, which helps identify top cities in the U.S. for military members who recently completed Active Duty service and their families amid changing priorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re interested in even more resources, check out our blog. You’ll find articles and tips on topics important for military spouses, ranging from our military employment resources, military benefits you may not know about, and more.

Click here to view the article posted on Navy Federal.

Guide to Veterans Affairs benefits and loans

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Smiling woman in camouflage holding cardboard box and looking at camera with blurred military man on background

In a nutshell…The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers many benefits for eligible veterans, including VA loans, the GI Bill, job training, medical benefits and housing grants for disabled veterans.

After your time in military service, you may be eligible for numerous veteran benefits. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, offers a range of services and assistance for eligible U.S. veterans and qualifying family members to help transition into civilian life.

Read on to understand the different benefits and loans available through the VA.

VA housing and homebuying assistance

One of the most well-known veteran benefits is VA housing assistance. It is meant to help veterans, service members and surviving spouses buy or build a home, refinance a home or make home improvements. Below are some of the specific programs and insights into each one.

VA home loans

A VA home loan is a type of mortgage loan that is backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Note that just because the loan is backed by the VA doesn’t mean it’s risk free. The VA backs the loan to protect the lender, not the borrower. If you miss payments, you still risk getting hit with late fees, decreased credit scores or — worse — possible home foreclosure. VA loans can be used to …

  • Buy a home
  • Build a home
  • Buy a home and fund improvements
  • Make energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home
  • Refinance an existing loan

Specific eligibility requirements can vary based on when you served. But veterans, surviving spouses and those joining the military today must generally meet one of the following eligibility criteria to qualify for a VA loan:

  • Served 90 total days of active service during wartime
  • Served 181 continuous days of active service during peacetime
  • Served six years of service in the National Guard or the Reserve
  • The applicant is a surviving spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or passed away from ­a disability that resulted while serving.

Additional eligibility requirements apply in some circumstances, so check with the VA for specifics.

The VA offers just one type of direct loan — through its Native American Direct Loan program for purchases on qualifying tribal lands. Otherwise it offers borrowers indirect, VA-backed loans from private lenders that participate in the VA loan program. Be sure to shop around and compare mortgage rates to choose the best mortgage for you. Ask friends and family for lender recommendations and be sure to look at online reviews.

VA loan programs specify that the home purchase being financed must be for a property used as a primary residence. Here are some other rules to keep in mind:

  • Property requirements: VA loans are for single-family residences with one to four family units and must be primarily residential in nature.
  • Qualifying income considerations: VA loan rules on using rental income as qualifying income for the loan include having cash reserves for at least three months’ worth of mortgage payments and providing the previous two years of tax returns showing the rental income.

There are some key differences between VA loans and other types of mortgages that make VA loans so appealing. These differences are:

  • No down payment may be required: Most types of home loans generally require some form of down payment. The VA loan typically requires nothing down — although you can make a down payment if you want to try to lower your total loan amount and monthly payment. If your home is appraised at a lower value than the listing or asking price — or if the lender needs it to meet secondary market requirements — you may have to make a down payment.
  • The VA has no minimum credit score requirement: There are no credit score requirements set by the VA — however, the specific lender you go through to apply for a VA loan may have their own credit requirements.
  • You may not be subject to loan limits: Unlike FHA loans, VA loans of more than $144,000 do not have a borrowing limit, as long as you have full VA loan entitlement — meaning you have not already taken out a VA home loan, or you have fully repaid a previous VA loan.
  • You do not need mortgage insurance: Unless you put 20% down, lenders typically require mortgage insurance to protect themselves in case you don’t pay your mortgage. Since a VA loan is backed by the VA, you are not required to pay for mortgage insurance.
  • VA loans have a funding fee: VA loans may require a one-time funding fee. This fee can range from 0.5% to 3.6% of your loan, depending on a number of factors, and can be wrapped up in your loan if you’re unable to pay it outright.

Types of VA home loans

There are several types of VA loans that are designed especially for the varying borrowing purposes listed above. These are:

  • VA purchase loans: A loan program that qualifying individuals use to buy, improve or build a home
  • VA cash-out refinance loans: A loan program that allows qualifying veterans, service members or surviving spouses to replace an existing loan with a new one, allowing them to borrow against equity in their home or refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan
  • VA interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL): A program that allows qualifying individuals to refinance your VA loan under new terms, potentially allowing you to reduce your monthly mortgage payments or interest rate.

There are both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate VA mortgages. With fixed-rate mortgages, you lock in your interest rate for the life of the loan. With adjustable-rate mortgages, your interest rate fluctuates according to the index of interest rates. The VA no longer prescribes specific interest rates — adjustable-rate loan changes depend on whether the loan is a standard or hybrid adjustable rate mortgage. Be sure to talk with your lender about which option is best for you, and learn how often these rates are subject to adjustment.

Homeowners insurance for veterans

Like almost any type of mortgage, institutions offering VA loans will typically require the borrower to purchase homeowners insurance. Additionally, the VA requires borrowers to have a hazard insurance policy where appropriate (flood insurance, for example, in known flood zones), which may be included in the conventional homeowners policy required by your lender. It may be worth asking your insurer or agent about possible military discounts for these types of programs.

State-specific veterans benefits

If you do not qualify for a VA loan or you are simply looking for additional housing benefits, there are generally state-specific organizations and programs designed to help veterans and others with housing at the state level. Be sure to check with your local VA office to help point you in the right direction.

VA disability benefits and programs

If you became sick or injured while serving in the military, or have an existing condition that got worse as a result of military service, you may qualify for VA disability compensation. You can file a claim for VA disability compensation online or at your local VA regional office — or send the appropriate information via mail to the address below.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Claims Intake Center

P.O. Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444

You will need the following documentation to submit your claim:

  • Military discharge papers (DD214 or any other separation documents you may have)
  • Any service treatment records
  • Medical treatment records that show proof of disability (for example, doctor reports, X-rays, test results, doctor orders/recommendations for treatment, mental status examination or operative reports)

Be sure to apply for disability compensation as soon as possible since the claims process can take a while — generally in the neighborhood of four to five months. The VA site regularly updates the average time it takes to approve or deny a claim — it was 134.4 days as of June 2021 and 139.6 days as of July 2021.

VA benefits for disabled veterans

  • Disability compensation: This is a tax-free monthly benefit paid to disabled veterans who are considered 10% disabled or higher. The exact dollar amount you receive each month fluctuates based on the degree of your disability and if you have dependents.
  • Clothing allowance: This is an annual allowance for eligible veterans and service members whose clothing has been damaged by prosthetics/orthopedic devices or topical medication for a skin condition.
  • Service-disabled veterans’ life insurance (S-DVI): This insurance benefit is for eligible veterans who may have service-connected disabilities but are in good health otherwise. The amount of premium you pay depends on your age, the type of plan and the amount of coverage you need.

The eligibility requirements and application process for each benefit can change, so be sure to check with your local VA center to determine whether you qualify and how to access the benefit.

VA disability housing programs

  • Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA): The HISA program provides up to $6,800 in funding for home improvements and structural alterations to a disabled veteran’s primary residence. The intent behind the program is to improve home accessibility.
  • Specially Adapted Housing grants (SAH): The SAH grant helps certain veterans and service members with disabilities work toward independent living by creating barrier-free environments.
  • Temporary Residence Adaptation grant (TRA): The TRA grant may be available as part of the SAH program described and linked above. It is used to help veterans and service members make accommodations when living temporarily in a family member’s home that needs changes to meet their needs.

Automobile allowance for veterans

Although the VA does not offer specialized car loans for all veterans, it does provide an automobile allowance for veterans and service members with qualifying injuries. This is a one-time allowance for disabled veterans and service members to help them purchase a vehicle that better accommodates their needs.

Qualifying individuals can use this allowance to purchase a new or used vehicle that is already equipped with adaptive equipment, or they can purchase and install adaptive equipment to an existing vehicle.

VA education, training and employment benefits

The VA offers several education, training and employment benefits to veterans, service members and their qualified dependents to help with education costs, finding a training program or career guidance and counseling. Below are the different VA education and training benefits.

  • Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E): The VR&E program is designed to help veterans and service members with service-related disabilities with job training, employment accommodations, resume developments and job-search coaching. In some cases, these benefits may extend to dependents.
  • Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG): The PCPG program offers education/training, career, academic, resume and goal-planning counseling to eligible service members, veterans and dependents.
  • Dependents and Survivors Educational Assistance: This is a specialized program for spouses and children of veterans or service members who died or received permanent disabilities while serving. The program helps with tuition, housing, books and school supply costs.
  • Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC): The VET TEC program helps veterans with training and educational courses in high-demand areas of the tech industry. The training is for computer software, computer programming, data processing, information science and media applications.
  • VetSuccess on Campus: This program is designed to help veterans and service members transition from life in service to life on campus. Each school that is a part of the program has a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to help support veterans with assistance needed to pursue their educational and employment goals.
  • Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR): The MGIB-SR program pays for up to 36 months of education or training benefits for qualifying reservists and members of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard.
  • The National Call to Service Program: This program offers a choice between a $5,000 cash bonus, up to $18,000 of student loan repayment, or educational assistance for eligible veterans who performed a period of national service.
  • Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP): The VRRAP is a temporary program that provides up to 12 months of tuition and schooling fees as well as a monthly housing allowance for qualified veterans who became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility for other unemployment and education benefits can impact eligibility for this program.

Next steps

To find out if you are eligible for VA home loan programs, visit the VA website or your local VA regional office to discuss the programs and your service record.

Continue to read the complete article on CreditKarma.com

Veterans turn to farming jobs, receive assistance through Farmer Veteran Coalition

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Army Veteran Jon Jackson on his farm

Veterans have an opportunity to use the land they fought to defend, getting assistance along the way.

Army Veteran Jon Jackson deployed twice to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan between 2003-2015. Now, he channels that energy into a new career as a farmer.

When he was in the service, Jackson had a backyard garden. He grew vegetables and had chickens, also admitting to having an illegal pig when he lived in Columbus, Georgia, near Fort Benning. After receiving a medical discharge following repeated deployments with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, he decided he wanted to try his hand at a larger farm.

One of his first stops was Farmer Veteran Coalition. FVC is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization assisting Veterans – and currently serving members of the Armed Forces – to embark on careers in agriculture.

“Getting my start in farming, the Farmer Veteran Coalition was the one organization that had the best integrity, the best resources, the best information out there for a farmer like myself to get started,” he said.

He used Farmer Veteran Coalition grants to get started and also connected with other Veteran farmers to gain experience, advice and find camaraderie.

Farming start

Jackson’s original goal was to open up a barbecue restaurant.

“It was literally the proverbial question: What comes first, the barbecue joint or the pigs?” Jackson said.

Jackson searched for an in-residence training program but couldn’t find one. Using his Ranger mentality, he started his own, creating the AG Tech to Success program. The collaborative effort is between Central Georgia Technical College, Fort Valley State University and through the group Jackson created, STAG Vets, Inc.

The program aims to increase the number of qualified Veterans trained and educated in food and agriculture production through a comprehensive, hands-on model farm/ranch program within the central Georgia region.

The Sustainable Small Farm and Agriculture Technician program study is a 17-week program. Veterans receive a specialized technical certificate of credit. The program includes hands-on training in the production, management and marketing of small-scale food production.

Farming program origins

Jackson’s location is Comfort Farms in Milledgeville, Georgia. The farm name is in honor of one of Jackson’s teammates. Army Capt. Kyle A. Comfort, a fellow Ranger, was killed in action May 8, 2010, in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

Jackson said the constant deployments and horrors of war caught up with him, leading to a mental health crisis.

“I was in a really dark, dark place and I needed help,” he said.

His mental health crisis lit a fire under him. He started the peer-to-peer program for active duty and Veterans. They come out two to four days to work on the farm, helping with farm projects.

“It’s just to get Vets who are going through crisis outside of their own head space and do something productive,” he said. Working with people and on the farm helps them talk through issues, he noted.

Building camaraderie

The program’s goal is to be proactive, building camaraderie before a Veteran needs help.

“We want our shelter during sunny days, not when it’s actually raining,” he added.

Jackson said another Veteran team building event is the upcoming Q For the Few backyard barbecue cook-off during Labor Day weekend. Veteran teams will compete in the contest, cooking two slabs of ribs, eight chicken thighs and a side dish. The competition includes two teams from the Western Judicial Circuit Veterans Court in Athens, Georgia. They target Veterans in the local area who are or could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor criminal offense stemming from mental illness or substance abuse problems associated with service. The Superior Court works with VA. The group came to the farm for a short trip recently and instantly connected with the program.

“These guys have kind of crawled their way out of a dark space and now they’re coming in next week, practicing their barbecue and having fun,” he said.

Advice for Veterans

Jackson’s best advice for a Veteran thinking about farming is to simply volunteer at a farm.

“Learn all types of agriculture,” he said, including visiting everything from blueberry to cattle farms. He also advised to visit chefs to see how they use it on a plate, whether in a restaurant or catering. Jackson believes seeing different types of operations will help Veterans decide – or avoid – a certain type of farming.

“Everyone says, ‘I want to go cattle’ until they get kicked in the chest by a damn cow,” he joked.

Whatever direction a Veteran decides, Jackson wants Veterans to know that farming takes a long time to master.

“Farming is the only profession that you’re still a beginner with less than 10 years of experience, so it’s not a fast process,” he said. “You need to start slow.”

From fire trucks to farming

Evan Boone used to spend his days fixing fire trucks during his four years in the Air Force. Now, he spends his days tending to cows, pigs, sheep and chickens.

He started out with a small farm at his last assignment at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He said his wife and him fell in love with the farming lifestyle, and soon decided to pursue their dream. Following his discharge, Boone moved to Aroda, Virginia, to start Three Springs Farm.

Growing up in a neighborhood, Boone had little experience outside visiting family farms in West Virginia. He also used Farmer Veteran Coalition for assistance, including webinars and training opportunities to learn. He also received a fellowship in 2019 and a grant to buy a three-door glass freezer for his farm store, which he said was a “game changer” because he can sell direct to consumers.

Boone especially enjoys the farming lifestyle and how every day is both busy and different. He likened the military and farmer lifestyles are similar because the commitment to helping fellow Americans.

“It’s really that sense of duty and kind of being there to feed people,” he said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about each other.”

Read the complete article posted on the VA website here.

What You Can Do to Successfully Transition from A Military Career

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man dressed in a suit with several other professionals in the background

Change can be challenging — or even downright difficult. But if you’re transitioning from the military, choosing a career at VA can make the experience alot easier and less stressful.

At VA, we understand the unique circumstances transitioning service members face and have created plenty of resources and tools to support you in your move to a new career. You will work alongside other veterans as you continue your mission to serve.

Here are six things you can do to successfully transition from a military career to one at VA:

1 . PREPARE FOR YOUR TRANSITION WELL IN ADVANCE.
Planning and preparing for your next move can help relieve stress and boost your confidence. Take advantage of what’s available to you while you’re still a service member, such as the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program. Take stock of your skills and think about how you could parlay them into a job at VA.

For instance, VA created the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) Program to hire former medics and military corpsmen into positions at VA medical centers. Ask supervisors for letters of referral or to serve as job references. Brush off your resume and make it shine. Talk with former service members who have already transitioned to civilian careers for tips and moral support. If you think you want to switch careers or need more education or training to make you competitive in your current career, explore educational opportunities and see how VA benefits may support you.

2. MAKE LINKEDIN A BEST FRIEND.
LinkedIn is an invaluable, career tool that can help you network, search for jobs and take advantage of careerbuilding resources. VA offers transitioning service members a free year of LinkedIn Prime, which includes more than 14,000 LinkedIn learning courses. LinkedIn Prime also has two learning paths for veterans: Transition from Military to Civilian Employment and Transition from Military to Student Life. Need some help navigating LinkedIn? Check out this video for tips on using LinkedIn for job searching.

3. ACTIVATE YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK.
Job hunting can take a toll on even the most persistent job seeker. That’s why having a support network is a good idea. In addition to current and former military colleagues, family members, neighbors, friends and acquaintances may all potentially be great contacts. You might be surprised to learn where they worked, who they know and who they might be able to connect you with. Keep an open mind and network, network, network!

4. SPEND TIME ON THE VA CAREERS WEBSITE.
The VA Careers website has all kinds of resources to help you explore and apply for positions at VA. A page dedicated to veterans has useful information about benefits and veterans’ hiring preference — and lets you view available opportunities or search for specific VA careers. On our Navigating the Hiring Process page, you’ll find an instructional guide that can help you search and apply for positions through USAJOBS.gov, as well as tips for preparing and submitting a job application.

The VA Careers blog is chock full of information about topics like how to ace a cover letter, how VA helps transitioning service members and spouses pursue civilian careers and what you can expect in a post-military career. VA Careers also participates in virtual career fairs, allowing you to speak with VA recruiters and learn about available positions.

5. CONTACT A VA RECRUITER.
Be proactive and email a VA recruiter. Connecting with a recruiter will speed the job application process and help you secure an interview. A recruiter can answer questions and guide you on finding the opportunity that best matches your skillset, preparing your resume and planning for interviews.

6. FINALLY, DON’T GIVE UP!
Finding a job takes time and patience, especially in a tight job market. Create a transition plan, rely on your network, use LinkedIn often, take advantage of all the resources VA Careers has to offer, connect with a recruiter and stick with it!

Source: VA.gov

Why Do Veterans Make Great Business Owners?

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Businessman in a suit cropped image reading the newsletter

Once their service ends, veterans often expect to start a new career. In many cases, the same skills and characteristics that helped make them successful in the military, such as ambition and a drive to succeed, make veterans uniquely suited for entrepreneurial endeavors like business ownership.

Franchising is a path toward business ownership that requires strong leadership skills, so veterans are often some of the most qualified and successful prospective franchise owners. According to the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran), a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association and the Franchise Education and Research Foundation, at least 97 percent of franchisors believe veterans would make excellent franchisees; 70 percent have brought on a veteran franchisee or employee in the last year alone.

“The skills veterans develop through their military experience are integral to pursuing a new career,” said Tim Davis, former president of The UPS Store, Inc. and former U.S. Marine Corps captain and Gulf War veteran.

Leadership. Work ethic. Discipline. These qualities are exactly what help more than 200 veteran The UPS Store franchisees succeed.

  • Working as a team: The success of an organization relies on its members working together and a recognition that the business is greater than the sum of its parts. Many veterans learn to rely on their fellow service men and women; franchise owners must embrace teamwork at multiple levels, from employees of the local franchise to the franchise’s national and regional leadership team.
  • Executing a plan: Although a franchise owner typically has access to a proven business model and ongoing support, executing the plan is the franchisee’s responsibility. Putting the pieces together and developing a working business plan requires an entrepreneurial approach similar to the military training veterans received.
  • Thriving under pressure: Things don’t always go according to plan, and service members possess the training and discipline to remain calm in pressure-filled situations. For best results when navigating situations like disgruntled customers or employees, a level-headed approach often prevails.
  • Working hard to accomplish a goal: Not all business owners have the level of commitment and work ethic necessary to accomplish their entrepreneurial goals. Service members are trained to understand the requirements of a mission and work diligently to achieve them.

Financing a Franchise Dream

Through its participation in VetFran, The UPS Store, Inc., makes it easier for veterans to attain their post-military professional goals.

For example, its “Mission: Veteran Entrepreneurship” program offers nearly $300,000 in financial incentives to assist qualified U.S. military veterans in opening their own franchise locations. In addition, the first 10 eligible veterans to submit a complete buyer’s application packet and initial application fee by Nov. 11 will receive a waiver for their franchise license fees.

Before You Buy a Franchise

Becoming a franchise owner is a big decision, which means it’s important to thoroughly research potential opportunities and carefully review all the available documents. In most cases, you will have an interview with the franchisor, which is not only a chance for him or her to assess your abilities but also for you to ask questions like these that can give you more perspective.

  1. How mature is the brand?

Some franchise systems are backed by a nationally renowned brand name and decades of franchise experience. A mature brand with a proven track record of success can be especially beneficial for a first-time business owner.

  1. Will training be provided?

A good franchise will be committed to helping you succeed by providing the tools and training necessary to get you started on the right foot. The best franchise opportunities will offer a comprehensive training program that covers more than just basic operational procedures, but also provides ongoing assistance. Ask if there is a support team you can reach out to with questions. Also find out how the brand’s franchisees work collaboratively to learn from one another and help each other succeed.

  1. How stable is the industry?

It’s impossible to guarantee the success of a business regardless of the state of the economy. However, some industries are more recession-resistant than others. Those that offer essential products and services that remain in demand or those that flourish due to tough economic conditions are typically among the best franchise opportunities. If you’re exploring opening a franchise business as a means of controlling your own employment and financial security, consider an industry that can thrive even in the face of market volatility.

  1. What type of marketing, advertising and promotion do you provide?

While you can generally expect to receive marketing assistance and grand opening guidance when first opening a franchise business, the type of marketing and advertising support provided beyond that can vary greatly among franchisors.

  1. What is the total short and long-term financial commitment?

Discuss all initial and ongoing fees in depth with the franchisor before committing to buy. You will also need enough operating capital to support the business until it breaks even. The franchisor should be able to give you an idea of how long it typically takes franchisees in the network to become profitable.

  1. Do you offer funding, incentives or deals?

The costs associated with opening a franchise business can be a significant factor in finding the right opportunity. Some franchisors offer financing options, as well as special incentives for veterans, women and minorities; certain business models; or opening a location in specific geographic areas.

Source: globenewswire.com

Resume Tips to Land a Federal Job

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Whether you’re a current federal employee or new to the Federal Government, your resume is the primary way for you to communicate your education, skills and experience.

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Read the entire job announcement. Focus on the following sections to understand whether or not you qualify for the position. This critical information is found under:
■ Duties and Qualifications
■ How to Apply (including a preview of the assessment questionnaire)
■ How You Will be Evaluated
Make sure you have the required experience and/or education before you apply. Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and the required
qualifications, including:
■ Level and amount of experience
■ Education
■ Training

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR RESUME
Federal jobs often require that you have experience in a particular type of work for a certain period of time. You must show how your skills and experiences meet the qualifications and requirements listed in the job announcement to be considered for the job.

Include dates, hours, level of experience and examples for each work experience.

For each work experience you list, make sure you include:
■ Start and end dates (including the month and year).
■ The number of hours you worked per week.
■ The level and amount of experience – for instance, whether you served as a project manager or a team member helps to illustrate your level of experience.
■ Examples of relevant experiences and accomplishments that prove you can perform the tasks at the level required for the job as stated in the job announcement. Your experience needs to address every required qualification.
Example:
Program Analyst GS-343-11
January 2009 – Present
40 Hours/Week
$63,000/Year
Experience/Accomplishment

INCLUDE VOLUNTEER WORK AND ROLES IN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
Don’t limit yourself to only including paid work experience. Include relevant volunteer work or community organizations roles that demonstrate your ability to do the job.
■ Use numbers to highlight your accomplishments
■ Use numbers, percentages or dollars to highlight your accomplishments – you can find this information in things like your performance reviews, previous job descriptions, awards and letters of recommendation.

When explaining your accomplishments:
■ Include examples of how you saved money, earned money, or managed money.
■ Include examples of how you saved or managed time.
Examples:
“Improved efficiency of document processing by 25 percent over the previous year.”
“Wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines.”
“Managed a student organization budget of more than $7,000.”
“Wrote prospect letter that has brought in more than $25,000 in donations to date.”

These statements show in concrete terms what you accomplished.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESUME
You should tailor your resume to the job announcement rather than sending out the same resume for every job. Customizing your resume helps you match your competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience to the requirements for each job. Emphasize your strengths and include everything you’ve done that relates to the job you’re seeking. Leave out experience that isn’t relevant.

USE SIMILAR TERMS AND ADDRESS EVERY REQUIRED QUALIFICATION
Your experience needs to address every required qualification in the job announcement. Hiring agencies will look for specific terms in your resume to make sure you have the experience they’re seeking.

For example, if the qualifications section says you need experience with “MS Project” you need to use the words, “MS Project” in your resume.

ORGANIZE YOUR RESUME TO MAKE IT EASY TO UNDERSTAND
You need to organize your resume to help agencies evaluate your experience. If you don’t provide the information required for the hiring agency to determine your qualifications, you might not be considered for the job.

■ Use reverse chronological order to list your experience – start with your most recent experience first and work your way back.
■ Provide greater detail for experience that is relevant to the job for which you are applying. Show all experiences and accomplishments under the job in which you earned it. This helps agencies determine the amount of experience you have with that particular skill.
■ Use either bullet or paragraph format to describe your experiences and accomplishments.
■ Use plain language – avoid using acronyms and terms that are not easily understood.

BE CONCISE
Hiring agencies often receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes for certain positions. Hiring managers quickly skim through submissions and
eliminate candidates who clearly are not qualified. Look at your resume and ask:
■ Can a hiring manager see my main credentials within 10 to 15 seconds?
■ Does critical information jump off the page?
■ Do I effectively sell myself on the top quarter of the first page?
■ Review your resume before you apply
■ Check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors and have someone else, with a good eye for detail, review your resume.

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE FEDERAL HIRING PROCESS
The Federal Government does have a standard job application. Your resume is your application. Hiring agencies use the job announcement to describe the job and list the required qualifications and responsibilities.

After applying, the hiring agency uses the information in your resume to verify if you have the required qualifications stated in the job announcement. Once the hiring agency has determined who is qualified, they may use other assessments, such as interviews or testing, to
determine the best qualified applications.

Source: usajobs.gov

Here’s How to Tell in Less Than 1 Minute Whether You’ve Made a Great First Impression, Backed by Science

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By Jeff Haden

Making a great first impression is supposed to be fairly simple. Smile. Make eye contact. Listen more than you speak. Ask questions about the other person.

And, oddly enough, simply believe you will make a good first impression. A 2009 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows people who expect to be “accepted” act more warmly and therefore are seen as more likable. (Of course, you genuinely have to believe you will be accepted — or at least “George Costanza believe” you will be accepted — which is obviously the hard part.)

So, yeah: You know what to do. But knowing what to do is never a guarantee of success.

How can you tell if you actually made a good first impression? Science to the rescue.

According to a 2018 meta-analysis of more than 50 different studies published in Psychological Bulletin, the key is to look for specific nonverbal and verbal signs to determine if you’ve established some degree of rapport.

  1. Smiling and laughing. No surprise there. But most people reflexively smile back, especially at first. And then there’s the Jimmy Fallon-esque “Oh, my gosh, I’ve never heard anyone say anything so funny” kind of laughter that doesn’t indicate anything genuine.
  2. Holding eye contact.Also, unsurprising; the eyes are usually the first indication the other person is thinking about somewhere they would rather be.
  3. Maintaining physical proximity.We all define “personal space” differently; the fact you back up half a step might just only mean I’ve slightly encroached on yours. Yet, according to the researchers, physical proximity is a key indicator of likability.
  4. Starting new topics of conversation.Another less obvious, yet important, indicator. If there’s no spark, polite people will see the current topic through and try to move on. But if they bring up something else without prompting…
  5. Unconsciously mimicking nonverbal expressions.A 2019 study published in Cognition and Emotion shows that when other people mimic your nonverbal expressions, that indicates they understand the emotions you’re experiencing — and may even result in “emotional contagion.” (Which means, if you want to use your first impression skills manipulatively, copying the other person’s expressions and gestures can make you seem more likable.)

So: Imagine you meet someone new. You know what to do. Smile. Make and hold eye contact. Laugh when appropriate. Don’t back away. Shift the conversational focus to the person you just met; one way is to use the 3 Questions Rule.

All the while, pay attention to how the other person responds. Whether they smile, laugh, and hold eye contact.

And more important, whether they maintain physical proximity, initiate new topics of conversation on their own and mimic some of your nonverbal expressions.

And then use what you learn to make a better first impression with the next person you meet.

Because the next person you meet could turn out to be one of your most important connections. Or one of your biggest customers.

Or, best of all, one of your closest friends.

Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc. and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Applying for a VA job? Here’s how to keep your application forms in order

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If you’re applying for a VA job, you’ve probably already noticed that the federal application process is different than in the civilian world.

We know the federal government has a bit of a reputation for lengthy processes and forms. While we try to streamline the application process as much as possible, there are usually at least a few forms and documents that you’ll need to upload when applying for a federal job.

Staying organized

Kenneth Mitchell, a VA recruiter, offers a few tips on how to make sure your application, forms and documents are in order before you hit submit.

Check which forms and documents are required. When you find a job that interests you on USAJobs, scroll down past the Duties and Requirements section to the Required Documents section. This will list the forms and documents that need to accompany your application. For some positions, like physicians, the only requirement is a CV or resume. “VA utilizes direct hiring authority for physicians, which makes the process easier and provides more flexibility,” Mitchell said. Other job types will require more forms and documents. If you later realize you forgot something, no worries. You can go back and update your application, as long as it remains open in USAJobs.

Consider whether additional forms will help your application. Even though they may not be required, you should still submit forms that may get you preferred status for your application. For instance, submit form DD-214 if you’ve served in the military and form SF-15 to receive Veterans’ preference. Military spouses also can receive hiring preference and will need to submit a marriage certificate, spouse’s military orders, and other documentation.

Build your USAJobs profile ahead of time. Plan on investing some time developing a comprehensive profile in your USAJobs account. “It’s worth the time up front to be thorough and include in your profile any supporting documents – resume, cover letter, letters of reference, transcripts, degrees and diplomas, awards, transcripts, etc. It’s really pretty easy to apply for positions once the profile is built,” Mitchell said. Keep track of which positions you apply for by noting their announcement and control numbers.

Keep several versions of your resume. You want to make sure your resume is fine tuned for the job you’re seeking and uses keywords from the specific job opportunity announcement. “Be sure to include those experiences you do have that are specific to the position you are applying for,” Mitchell recommended. “For example, you may have a resume geared towards program management and another geared more towards process improvement.” Check out our blog post on preparing your federal resume for more tips.

A worthwhile investment

While applying for a federal job can be a bit more cumbersome and require some up-front work, Mitchell provided assurance that it’s worth it.

A Veteran himself, Mitchell enjoys the chance to continue his service and is also appreciative of those who are interested in helping Veterans receive the health care they need.

“As a VA employee, I find it to be the most professionally rewarding and personally satisfying job I’ve had,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to continue my service in a very meaningful way.”

Work at VA

Now that you’re organized and ready to go, take the next step toward a VA career.

The Ultimate Job Search Checklist

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Job searches can be overwhelming and sometimes it is difficult to know exactly where to start. Resume Worded has put together a step-by-step checklist to help you stay organized and task-oriented.

Here are the things you’ll need to think about when job searching:

Your Resume/CV
These introductory documents are what help you get an interview. A strong resume/CV gets past initial filters/screens and makes a strong impression on hiring managers. Make sure you understand what type of document (resume, academic CV, federal resume) to use for the job you are applying to. Create impact on your document through strong content and a clean, easy to skim format. Lastly, always have another set of eyes look at this document to help you edit for errors.

Your Online Presence
When you are job searching, you should assume people are looking you up online. It might be a good idea to make all of your personal Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, SnapChat accounts private. One account that should have a public present though is LinkedIn. Take some time to update it and optimize it with keywords for your intended career path/sector.

Finding a Job Online
Cast a wide net when searching for jobs online. General websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor can be helpful; however, you will also want to utilize niche job boards related to your field. Science Careers and Nature Careers often have relevant job postings. You might also want to check some professional associations connected to you field.

Applying for A Job Online
Your resume/CV and cover letter are your first introduction with an online application, so they need to be near perfect. Make sure you focus on quality not quantity and tailor each document for the relevant posting.

Getting an Introduction/Referral
A huge part of job searching is networking. Don’t hesitate to be in touch with your contacts and ask for resume referrals when appropriate. Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about a career path and a company, so start reaching out now and having these conversations. People who actively network tend to shave time off their total job search, so in the end it does pay off!

Interviewing
The key to interviewing well is in the preparation. Learn about the employer and your interviewers. Know what type of interview you might anticipate. Then, practice as much as you can! Rehearse or write out your answers to typical interview questions. Think about interview questions you have struggled with in the past. And last, but not least make sure you have prepared thoughtful questions for each interviewer.

Source: NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education

Putting Your Military Experience to Work in the Electronics Industry

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By Rob Mortensen, Senior Manager, North American MEGAYSYS Operations at EMD Electronics

The MEGASYS organization at EMD Electronics provides a unique service, as our employees actually work onsite in our customers’ facilities to maintain our delivery systems equipment and safely handle our materials (chemicals and gases) throughout the stages of manufacturing semiconductors.

I recently sat down with Walter Marrable, a Chemical Operations Supervisor on our MEGASYS team in Austin, TX, to learn about how the skills he acquired in the U.S. military translate to his role in our organization.

Marrable served in the United States Navy for six years as a nuclear-trained machinist. “I was responsible for supervising an engine room that directly controlled the maneuverability of aircraft carriers and power generation. Managing the engine room included conducting regular maintenance and repairs. When I left the military, I had over 1000 hours of applied experience in maintenance work.”

Marrable said that what drew him to apply for a position in MEGASYS directly after leaving the military was the technical aspect of the role. He was interested in semiconductor technology and had long-admired our customers and wanted to be a part of the industry. Drawing parallels from his work in the engine room to the fab; he shared that moving materials and regulating pressure temperatures were very similar.

“You still have (material) levels and equipment that operate in a specific way. You need to understand the ins and outs of those systems and why components are designed the way they are, and where they are located and processed. All of that definitely translated over into working in MEGASYS,” Marrable shares. “Once you understand the technical pieces of equipment, it’s easier to learn additional types of equipment in the fab.”

In speaking to Marrable, it’s quite apparent that he brings a high level of discipline to his position and makes safety and quality a priority in his work.

“In the military, just like in here at MEGASYS, we have a chain of command. As a supervisor, I am responsible for developing the team and adhering to strict protocols, procedures. There’s more PPE here at our customer site for good reason, and safety is a top priority,” he says. “Onboarding new team members and continuing education for our tenured employees related to our protocols are essential. Safety is everyone’s job, just like in the military. We can’t ignore potential hazards. We have to know how to take action,” Marrable concludes.

At EMD Electronics, we are committed to hiring U.S. veterans. Marrable’s advice for anyone leaving the military who may be interested in working for us was pretty straightforward. “Like any career, you’re going to get out what you put into it. There’s a lot to learn, and there’s so many opportunities,” he says. “From a technical side of things, MEGASYS is a phenomenal place to be. We have so much exposure to the manufacturing process and working with technical equipment. Not to mention building relationships with the customer and understanding their needs.

“MEGASYS has a variety of work. Whether you decide to pursue operations like me or work on the maintenance team, you have options to expand your skills. You also have the opportunity to explore different shifts and decide which kind works best for you. The operations team works a rotating shift—three on/three off, four on/four off in 12-hour shifts. If you are on the maintenance team, you’ll work Monday to Friday, 9-5. So, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like shift work, apply for the maintenance team,” he suggests.

Marrable noted that opportunities to grow are similar in MEGASYS too. “There’s definitely a runway ahead. Leaders work with you to guide you in the right direction to advance your career. There’s a lot of hands-on learning to build your skill set.”

If you’d like to learn more about joining our team, and working with great people like Marrable, visit our website at emdgroup.com/careers.

Source: EMD Electronics

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

Lumen

Lumen

Leidos Video

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Verizon

Verizon Wireless