Six Things Veterans Can Do to Successfully Transition from A Military Career

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transition-to-civilian

Veterans making military career changes can be challenging and stressful. While transitioning from the military, choosing a career at VA can make the experience a lot 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.

  1. Make LinkedIn your best friend

LinkedIn is an invaluable career tool that can help you network, search for jobs and take advantage of career-building 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 these four VA Careers videos for tips on using LinkedIn for your job search.

  1. 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!

  1. 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 at VA. Consider participating 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 VA 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

From Section Leader to Software Engineer

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Cody Baerman pictured with his wife in him fatigues

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

By Cody Baermann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: eurweb & blackenterprise.com 

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

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

Veteran transforming lives through local apprentice program

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Roger Hermeling Headshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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America 250 logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

About U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission

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

Veteran Career Center Portal Launching in December

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An illustration of a man in a suit standing in front of a large key hole shaped entrance

Estimated to launch in December, the Veteran Career Center job portal’s mission is to connect veterans to a successful civilian career where they can continue putting their talents into practice. Veterans will be able to search through tens of thousands of jobs. This platform is designed to assist veterans who have recently been discharged who may have difficulties finding a job. American companies that hire veterans will benefit from several qualifications they have acquired during their years of service.

Some of the most valued and demanded skills are:

  • Quick learning
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Adapting
  • Resilience
  • Critical thinking

In addition to these great qualifications, your company can receive up to $9,600 in tax credit. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a federal program from the U.S. government to incentivize more job opportunities for groups that could have difficulties being employed. One of the target groups for this program is veterans. When hiring a qualified WOTC veteran, your company is eligible to receive a tax credit for up to $9,600 per new hire. This can greatly benefit the companies’ tax liability.

Below you can see the criteria to consider a veteran as WOTC qualified:

  • Unemployed for a total period of at least 4 weeks (whether or not consecutive), but less than 6 months in the one-year period ending on the hiring date. Tax credit amount: $2,400.
  • Unemployed for a total period of at least 6 months (whether or not consecutive) in the one-year period ending on the hiring date. Tax credit amount: $5,600.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability hired not more than one year after being discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. Tax credit amount: $4,800.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who is unemployed for a total period of at least six months (whether or not consecutive) in the one-year period ending on the hiring date. Tax credit amount: $9,600.
  • A member of a family receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (food stamps) for at least 3 months during the first 15 months of employment. Tax credit amount: $2,400.

Source: globenewswire.com

The 10 Best States for Military Retirees

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Older couple together smiling

Military retirees may find themselves dropped into another war—the one the US is waging against the coronavirus. COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War did and has led to government measures similar to that of wartime, such as restrictions on going out and the conversion of factories to make essential supplies.

Many of our military retirees will need emotional support as they transition back to civilian life amid the pandemic, but may find that support sharply cut back by social distancing. The skyrocketing unemployment rate caused by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns will also stand as an obstacle to any former military personnel looking to get civilian jobs.

Even without a pandemic, retirement from the military is always difficult, with many retirees facing major struggles, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), disability and homelessness. These veterans must also consider how state tax policies on military benefits vary, along with the relative friendliness of different job markets and other socioeconomic factors when choosing a state in which to settle down.

To help ease the burden on our nation’s military community, WalletHub compared 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their ability to provide a comfortable military retirement. Our analysis uses a data set of 29 key metrics, ranging from veterans per capita to number of VA health facilities to job opportunities for veterans.

10 Best States for Military Retirees

1          Virginia

2          Florida

3          South Carolina

4          Maryland

5          New Hampshire

6          Alabama

7          Maine

8          Minnesota

9          Alaska

10        Idaho

Source: wallethub.com

Veterans: Interested in a Federal Job?

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A woman smiling with a laptop and two small American flags in front of her

Working for the federal government can be a great option for veterans. Depending on the circumstances, government jobs can offer greater stability than jobs with private companies.

In addition, veterans’ skills often transfer readily to federal agency work, making veterans particularly valued candidates.

How are federal civil service jobs structured?

There are three distinct areas in federal civil service:

  • Competitive Service: offers the greatest number of federal jobs, based in the executive branch of federal government, and veterans’ preference applies. Search for these on USAJOBS.gov
  • Excepted Service: jobs that are excepted from rules of competitive service—agencies may hire in this category when it’s not feasible or practical to hire under competitive service rules. Job notices may either be on USAJOBS.gov or on individual agency websites. Veterans’ preference applies.
  • Senior Executive Service: primarily executive or managerial jobs, emphasizing leading change, leading people, driving results, business acumen, and building coalitions. Some job notices are published on USAJOBS.gov; many are internal postings. Veterans’ preference does not apply.

What is veterans’ preference?

Veterans’ preference gives eligible veterans preference in hiring over many other applicants. It does not guarantee veterans a job and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions and transfers. Eligibility for veteran’s preference is based on dates of active duty service and other specifics of service; not all active duty service qualifies. Learn more about veterans’ preference. 

How can you find federal job openings?

Your federal job search process starts with identifying the type of job you want. Then search for titles related to that job on the USAJOBS website. There are many federal agencies and on any given day USAJOBS lists thousands of jobs available with most of these agencies. You don’t need an account to search for a job, but you must register to apply.

You can apply to most federal jobs with a resume. Use the resume builder on USAJOBS to help ensure your resume is appropriate for federal job applications. Federal resumes must be targeted and tailored to the position, and are usually several pages long, compared to 1-2-page resumes for private sector jobs.

How do you ensure you qualify?

Vacancy announcement” is the federal government’s term for a job description, and it’s critical that you read each carefully to ensure you qualify before applying. There is a difference between being eligible and qualified for federal positions; to be selected, a candidate must meet both criteria.

Eligible

Being eligible for a position means meeting basic criteria. Make sure to review the criteria listed in the “who may apply” section of the announcement. While veterans have access to many of the positions posted on USAJOBS.gov, some jobs may limit the candidate pool, for example, to current employees only.

Qualified

To be qualified for a position, you must meet the specialized skills, specific experience, and any other criteria outlined in the vacancy announcement. Vacancy announcements have a special section for qualifications and evaluations. This is the most important section in determining whether you qualify for the position, so analyze this section to find the key words and specific skills to include in your resume.

Source: careeronestop.org

Military Makeover with Montel Launches on FREE Streaming TV Service, STIRR, on Sunday

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Montel Williams with cast of Military Makeover

In addition to its longstanding home on Lifetime and The American Forces Network (AFN), Military Makeover with Montel, a BrandStar Original, is expanding its viewership through a new partnership with STIRR, a free, ad-supported streaming TV service owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. With over 6 million downloads, STIRR offers local TV viewers across the country more than 130 free TV channels and over 8,000 hours of free video-on-demand (VOD) movies and TV series. The addition of the award-winning show, Military Makeover, expands STIRRs original, veteran-focused, content to audiences across the country.

Military Makeover offers hope and a helping hand on the home front to members of our military and their loved ones. Talk show legend and military advocate Montel Williams, a veteran of the Marine Corps and the Navy, is both host and co-executive producer of Military Makeover. Montel along with the cast and crew, special guest veteran WWE Superstar Lacey Evans, non-profits and likeminded companies with a similar mission to help veterans, come together to transform the homes and lives of military families across the country.

“Military Makeover has already proven to be a huge hit with audiences, and we’re excited to welcome BrandStar content to our platform,” said Ben Lister, Director of Content Acquisition and Business Development for STIRR. “Thanks to the incredible success of the STIRR City Channel, we anticipate that this program will become a major attraction for STIRR users when it premieres.”

Military Makeover kicks off with a marathon airing on STIRR City (Channel 1) on November 8 from 10am – 6pm. Thereafter, it will run weekdays 1-2pm and available anytime, on-demand through STIRRs robust VOD library. STIRR can be accessed online (http://www.STIRR.com) or via app which is available on Roku TV, Fire TV, Apple TV as well as iOS and Android devices.

“BrandStar is thrilled to embrace STIRRs new OTT streaming platform, bringing our award-winning, original content to a broader demographic, says Mark Alfieri, CEO BrandStar. Being a free platform, our life-changing, veteran stories will now be available for all to see.”

Military Makeover with Montel®, a BrandStar Original, is America’s Leading Branded Reality TV Show that offers hope and a helping hand here on the home front to members of our military and their loved ones. A veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Navy, talk show legend and military advocate Montel Williams, who creatively co-produces the show along with a colorful cast that seeks to transform the homes and lives of military families across the country. The cast includes co-host Art Edmonds, designer Jennifer Bertrand and contractor Ryan Stanley. This special series enlists caring companies of all sizes as well as non-profits and the local community. Military Makeover airs on Lifetime® , STIRR and on the American Forces Network which serves American servicemen and women, Department of Defense and other U.S. government civilians and their families stationed at bases overseas, as well as U.S. Navy ships at sea. Help starts at home for veterans on Military Makeover. Join us as our makeover team engages to change the living situation – and the lives – of these deserving families.

About STIRR: STIRR is a free ad-supported streaming service featuring a mix of live local news, TV shows, movies, sports and lifestyle programming. STIRR delivers over 100,000 hours of live local news a year, over 130 linear channels and over 8,000 hours of video on demand movies and TV shows. The STIRR app is available on Roku TV, Fire TV, Apple TV as well as iOS and Android devices or at http://www.STIRR.com. Based in Santa Monica, CA, STIRR is a first of its kind OTT service created, owned and operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

A Lifetime of Service

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Montel Williams with cast of Military Makeover

By Brady Rhoades

Montel Williams served his country for 22 years, and ever since, he’s been serving those who serve in the Armed Forces. 

Through Military Makeover, which he produces and hosts, the Emmy-award winning TV icon has transformed the homes and lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. The show, which airs on Lifetime TV and AFN, has produced some of the most memorable moments in TV history.

In a February, 2020 episode, Montel and the Military Makeover crew helped Debbi, the Gold Star widow of Operation Desert Storm veteran Chris Hixon, who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman  Douglas High School in Florida while rushing in and trying to disarm the killer.

They stepped in two years after the school shooting that killed Chris and 16 others and made Debbi and her two children’s lives a little brighter by, among other things, renovating her kitchen and installing long, floating shelves in several rooms. Debbi placed photographs of Chris on those shelves.

Montel — no last name necessary for most people — lives by a simple creed that he learned in boot camp: “We leave no Marine behind,” he says. “I bought into the fact that once a Marine, always a Marine.”

TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City.
TV personalities Rachael Ray and Montel Williams (C) pose with the 1st Marine Corps District at the 2nd Annual Variety Salute to Service in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Montel was the first Black Marine selected to the Naval Academy Prep School to then go on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

“In the nearly three decades since I retired from the Navy, I’ve never really taken the uniform off because standing up for those who are serving now—and those who have served—has been the greatest honor of my professional career,” he says,

Most recently, the husband and father of four joined The Balancing Act, also on Lifetime TV, as a co-host. Before that, he shot to stardom on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 to 2008, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Military Roots
There’s a lot of tinsel that goes with Hollywood fame, but beneath it are roots, and Montel’s are deep and resilient. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1974. He then graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980 with a degree in engineering and a minor in international security affairs.

Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
Montel Williams (R) and wife Tara Williams.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

He completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training, and spent 18 months in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence. He was later a supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. He left the Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

As part of his work in cryptology, Montel teamed with the National Security Agency and was involved in the victory in Grenada in 1983. On several occasions, Montel has worked to get United States citizens — usually military personnel who have been captured in foreign lands — returned to America.

In the 1990s and early part of the 2000s, The Montel Williams Show was synonymous with excellence, empathy and intelligence. Some argue Montel is on the “Mt. Rushmore” of day-time talk show legends, alongside Oprah and others.

In 1999, after years of excruciating pain that, at times, had him crying during commercial breaks, Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was bad and good news all at once — bad because MS is painful and debilitating; good because he finally knew what was ailing him and could move forward with treatment.

More than two decades after his diagnosis, Montel lives an active, purposeful life. A fun one, too. One of his favorite activities is snowboarding, which he says helps his balance in day-to-day living.

A Healthy Balance

Montel Williams, Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon, his son Corey, and Hixon’s sister-in-law.
From left: Montel Williams, Hixon’s sister-in-law, his son Corey, and Debra Hixon, wife of late Navy Veteran Chris Hixon.

Balance is what makes him a perfect fit for The Balancing Act, a morning show that empowers viewers to live balanced, healthy lives. Montel, who suffered a stroke in 2018, and just keeps going like the Eveready Battery, knows a thing or two about balance. If success is measured by how many people you’ve helped, Montel is rich beyond his monetary millions and accomplished far beyond his worldwide fame.

He goes back again and again to those values he learned in boot camp. Take the following episode of Military Makeover:

After Aaron and Holly Middleton met at a Columbus bar after graduating Ohio State University, it was love at first sight. Though unfamiliar with the rigors of military family life, Holly went all in, giving up her own career to find fulfillment as a mother. Aaron is now a major and senior communications officer serving at USMC Forces Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The family has faced overwhelming adversity. First, their newborn son, Kelvin, was diagnosed with holes in his lungs, requiring immediate surgeries. Then, unspeakable tragedy struck the family when the Middleton’s’ 5-year-old daughter Scarlett died from an undiagnosed illness.

Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”
From left: Montel Williams with Holly and Aaron Middleton, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Scarlett, and began a foundation in her honor, “Scarlett’s Sunshine.”

The shock and trauma of Scarlett’s passing has shaken the family to its core. Scarlett loved picking and giving away flowers, and her favorite song was, “You Are My Sunshine.” Through pain and inspiration, Holly promised to keep alive the joy Scarlett brought to everybody who knew her. The grieving mother created a charity called Scarlett’s Sunshine, using random acts of kindness with flowers to induce spontaneous smiles.

“Little did I know that when I gave people the flowers, and I saw the gratitude on their faces light up, that I would see Scarlett’s light again,” Holly says. “I found her light.” The Middletons’ home in St. Petersburg— the first they’ve owned since Aaron joined the Corps— needed a lot of help. Military Makeover worked to make it a place of healing and solace for this deserving military family.

As the cherry on top, the show donated a year’s worth of flowers to Scarlett’s Sunshine. “It feels like a miracle,” Holly said, when presented with the flowers. Which brought a smile to Montel’s face.

That’s the miracle of Montel’s life, which mirrors the lives of all U.S. veterans.

3 Career Fields That Require Experience That Veterans Already Have

LinkedIn
IT Professional working on a laptop

By Jay Hicks

Preparing for the transition from active duty to civilian life can be challenging, especially when it comes to career choices.

If you are in mid-transition to civilian life, you probably have been told to hone your resume for the job you want. If you’re concerned about relating your military skills to the rest of world, don’t worry. Here are three great career fields for your career after the military.

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

How many inventories have you been involved with? Have you worked in the NBC or arms room? You know how to order supplies, stock and issue repair parts, clothing and gear utilizing the supply system. You have been responsible for proper transaction follow up and receipt procedures, how to enhance warehouse layout and storage, and the proper operation of the Government Purchase Card Program.

You have driven countless miles, performed duties associated with hazardous material control and management, and maintained inventory databases for material stocked in warehouses and storerooms.

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

First, your skill set needs to be translated and repackaged so that hiring managers can quickly understand who you are. Second, you may need to get a certification, but not necessarily a four-year degree. However, a minimum of a High School (HS) Diploma or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), and Mail Systems Management Association all provide logistics certifications for veterans interested in getting ahead in the commercial supply career field.

If you decide to take a deeper dive into commercial logistics, read “The Transitioning Military Logistician” which is part of the “Transitioning Military Series”, available on Amazon and at AAFES.
You may be unaware, but you already are a Project Manager! If you enjoy planning, scheduling, and executing operations, your future career path could be project management.

Your leadership and planning skills and your adaptability, ingrained during military service, will enable you to successfully transition into project management. Action officer, training officer, operations planner, commander, platoon sergeant, are all military terms that equate to project manager in the commercial world. Best of all, project management spans all industries.

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

You can enhance your network with project managers in commercial industry while attending meetings and learning about the career field. Further, many local chapters have a PMI Military Liaison that can assist you with your certification process and link you to mentors.

You do not need a degree to be a project manager, but you may need experience and certification. If you lack experience, get certified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®. The PMP®, recognizes demonstrated experience, skill and performance in leading and directing projects.

An excellent resource for learning more about this exciting career field is “The Transitioning Military Project Manager”, part of the “The Transitioning Military Series”.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
The outlook for the IT career field is incredibly positive. The IT industry continues to enjoy unfettered growth, as the IT career field will grow 13% over the next 4 years. Glassdoor states the national average for IT salaries is currently over $69,080 per year.

Computers and information systems managers should expect a 15% growth through 2022, with a median salary over $120,000 per year.
Your IT skills from the military are transportable and desirable!

There is an increasing demand for skilled IT professionals, enabling you to launch into the lucrative career. You may start out as a technician, but as you develop, you could end up as the CIO, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or Chief Operations Officer (COO).

Another lucrative path is cybersecurity, which is needed for all functions and jobs within IT. Either direction, you will be heavily rewarded for years to come. An additional way to gain a more in-depth understanding of the IT career field, is by reading “The Transitioning Military Information Technology Professional” or “The Transitioning Military Cybersecurity Professional”, which are both components of the “Transitioning Military Series,” both available at AAFES and on Amazon.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

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