Veteran Brings No. 1 Home Inspection Franchise to Hometown

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Lori and Dave Starnes closeup wearing blue work uniform

Sometimes you find a business opportunity that fits like a glove. That seems to be the case for Dave and Lori Starnes. The couple recently moved back home to the Adams/Clarksville, TN area from Hawaii and recently launched operations as new franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection franchise in North America.

Team Starnes Home Inspectors, LLC will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout Clarksville, as well as Hopkinsville, KY, and surrounding areas.

Dave retired from the United States Army after 26 years and had been a high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor in Hawaii. He also ran his own handyman/general contracting business, while Lori was an operations/ property manager for 100 luxury vacation rental properties, in addition to running her own cleaning business. If it’s something related to homes, the couple has a pretty good handle on things, so becoming franchisees with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors was a natural fit. “Dave had been a handyman and general contractor for more than five years and worked directly with realtors in fixing and repairing many of the deficiencies discovered during the home inspection process,” Lori said. “He had a knack for finding and fixing those issues and we decided to join Pillar To Post Home Inspectors in order to provide professional home inspection services for current and future homebuyers throughout Clarksville and the surrounding areas.”

According to Pillar To Post Home Inspectors President and CEO Dan Steward, “We are rolling out some pretty amazing technologies that are now in full swing for all Pillar To Post Home Inspections. One of these is the PTP360 tour.” PTP360 is an interactive, virtual home inspection tour that allows users to revisit a home anytime and anywhere from a smartphone, tablet or desktop and even share the tour with family and friends. “It’s a great new innovation – fast-tracked to completion because of COVID-19 concerns – and we saw just how well it performed,” Steward said. Clients can also receive a measured FloorPlan of the entire home, with measurements to help with furniture fit and placement. “In the long term, PTP360 is a huge help for busy, professional Realtors, saving them time and better serving their seller, while also giving prospective buyers a far better experience,” Steward said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors has achieved the highest standings in various rankings of “Best in Category,” “Top 20 Franchises to Buy,” “Top 10 Global Franchises” and “Top Franchises for Veterans” in addition to achieving 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans. A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

Dave and Lori have two adult children who followed their father’s footsteps into the Army and their son, Russ, will be joining his parents in their business in the near future. In the meantime, Dave and Lori are looking forward to the new year and the newest chapter in their life. “We chose Pillar To Post Home Inspectors because we felt the support and technical advances were superior to other options we considered,” said Lori. “And we were ready to start our own business to secure our financial independence.”

 

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 9 years in a row and appeared in the ranking for 24 years. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

Veterans Boost America’s Energy Workforce

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By Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy

When their service ends, our veterans should be able to count on a healthy economy with ample job opportunities in the wide variety of fields for which they are suited.

The energy sector of our economy is one for which veterans are well-prepared by their military service. There are jobs ranging from oil and gas drilling and powerline work to ensuring security at our nuclear energy sites and installing renewable energy systems. Both the public and private sectors see the value of hiring veterans and are taking strides to assist with their transition to civilian life.

A well-educated, prepared workforce – one that also includes highly-skilled veterans – is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in scientific discovery and innovation. And the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cannot carry out our mission for energy, environment, and national security without such a workforce.

An example of an outstanding public sector program is Solar Ready Vets, launched as a pilot by DOE in 2014 to connect our nation’s skilled veterans to the industry by preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales reps, system inspectors, and other solar jobs. After graduating 526 students in 10 states, the program, which was enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, was expanded into the Solar Ready Vets Network, a group of relevant workforce development programs to connect veterans and transitioning military service members with careers in the sector.

On the private side, one program I got to learn about firsthand is a collaboration between

Duke Energy and Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) in North Carolina. As part of Duke’s Veteran Hiring Initiative, FTCC runs a training program to help veterans gain the training to become skilled electrical linemen and eventually enter the workforce. During a visit to Fayetteville, I watched a lineman training demonstration and met with several program participants. Each was eager to continue serving his or her community by doing this critical work.

The Department of Energy is committed to supporting and empowering American workers, especially servicemembers separating from active duty. We are proud to employ more than 4,600 veterans, and the number continues to grow. In 2020, one in every three new DOE hires has been a veteran, and we consistently receive “exemplary” ratings from the Interagency Council on Veterans Employment for hiring and retaining veterans.

We are committed to ensuring veterans continue to play a key role in our Nation’s energy workforce to secure a safe, prosperous future for our country.

Veterans and transitioning service members can find more information about our STEM workforce programs on energy.gov.

Source: Energy.gov

MedTechVets Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2021 MedTechVets Academy: Opportunity for Veterans to Gain and Practice Professional Skills

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young male laboratory technician operating computerized equipment

MedTechVets, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies, recently announced enrollment for its spring 2021 MedTechVets Academy program for transitioning active-duty service members and veterans.

This Academy is for military veterans who are within six months of your separation, or an honorably discharged and is a free virtual 6-week program supporting career transition to the device, biotech, and life services industries.

Veterans will have the opportunity to improve their professional skills and job prospects by participating in personal branding workshops, mock interviews, and learning networking do’s and don’ts, which are available through the 2021 MedTech Vets Academy. Participants will be selected via online applications and will also receive editing assistance on their resumes and cover letters, support from mentors to identify industry gaps that apply to their unique skill set, and resources that help them identify those job opportunities. Additionally, the academy will teach skills, knowledge, and confidence to set attendees up for workforce success.

The deadline to apply to the 2021 MedTechVets Academy is 5:00pm PT on Friday, April 2nd— and the program is slated to begin on April 6, 2021. NOTE: The applications of those not selected for the spring 2021 Academy cohort will be saved for the summer program and supported through that process.

Please visit https://medtechvets.org/academy/ to apply and learn more.

About MedTechVets
MedTechVets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies. MedTechVets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans.

MedTechVets is endorsed by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed).

Announcing the 2021 VetsinTech Invasion National Conference – All-Star Lineup With More Than 30 Top Tech Companies

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Young soldier in military wear keeping arms crossed and smiling

VetsinTech, the leading national non-profit dedicated to advancing career opportunities for veterans in the tech industry, announced its “VetsinTech Invasion 2021” national conference. 

Scheduled to take place April 17th and 18th, VetsinTech’s Invasion 2021 assembles more than 30 of the top tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. In its fourth year, hundreds of veterans and their spouses from all over the country will participate in a one-of-a-kind gathering that brings together leading tech giants and veterans to provide networking opportunities in education, employment, and entrepreneurship in tech.

Luminary keynote speakers at the VetsinTech’s Invasion 2021 include:

  • The Honorable Denis Richard McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who President Biden appointed in February 2021. He also served as Chief of Staff under former President Obama.
  • Michèle Flournoy, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors. Previously, Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under the Obama administration. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
  • Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. Steve developed the customer development methodology that spawned the Lean Startup movement.
  • Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, VetsinTech Board member and a leading advocate for veterans and military families.

Sponsors of the VetsinTech Invasion 2021 include Disney, Elastic, Google, Wounded Warrior Project, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Nasdaq, Tibco, and Uber.

Meeting the DEI Challenge with Military Veterans

VetsinTech provides an unmatched national technology ecosystem supported by innovative programs in employment, education and entrepreneurship. With diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a top concern in Silicon Valley and across the country, companies recognize that veterans are an untapped source of highly skilled talent who can help them meet the hiring challenge.

“This year’s conference is truly groundbreaking with a large number of leading tech companies, phenomenal keynotes, and industry speakers that we’ve lined up to support our exceptionally qualified veterans. This ‘show of force’ demonstrates a strong commitment by the VetsinTech Employer Coalition to meet DEI goals while also filling the critical gap in technology talent,” said Katherine Webster, Founder and CEO of VetsinTech.

At the VetsinTech Invasion 2021, veterans will get to hear and communicate virtually with executives from Silicon Valley’s most successful technology companies, venture capital firms, recruiters and HR, and engineers who will lead workshops, speak in panels and participate in networking events. Veterans and their spouses can meet and mingle with VetsinTech’s world-class coalition partners, which can be found here.

About VetsInTech

Based in San Francisco, with more than 50,000 vets strong and 20 chapters across the country, VetsInTech is the leading national non-profit devoted 100% to springboarding veterans into tech careers. VetsinTech harnesses the national technology ecosystem to benefit veterans returning from active military duty and who want to apply their exceptional training, skills, and experience to a new technology career. Comprising technology industry leaders and former service members, VetsinTech is the only non-profit supporting our veterans through tech-based programs and opportunities in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. For more information, interested parties can visit www.vetsintech.co.

Careers for Junior Military Officers through Orion Talent

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Former military officer in his office wearing a suit with a blurred image of a US flag in the background

Free Career Placement Services for Transitioning Junior Military Officers

Are you a First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Captain or Lieutenant preparing for your transition from Active Duty? Discover Orion Talent, the nation’s most trusted career partner to Junior Military Officers making the transition into Corporate America. Orion will help you with your transition into the civilian workforce by matching your skills and career goals with opportunities within America’s finest companies.

Orion is proud to work with world-leading companies who are committed to hiring top military talent. These companies realize the value that Veterans bring to the workforce and continually seek to add transitioning and former military service members to their ranks. Orion is the exclusive provider of Military Talent to many of our client companies, allowing you access to job opportunities that you otherwise would not have. Visit our Featured Employers page to learn more about the companies and some of the opportunities available for JMOs.

Visit Orion Talent today!
https://www.oriontalent.com/military-job-seekers/junior-military-officers/

How Do You Ask for a Professional Favor?

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Just because many of us are now working remotely doesn’t mean staying connected becomes any less valuable. In fact, we all might need a little bit more human connection these days.

When you’re alone with yourself (as most of us have been recently), it’s easy to see the value of community and why building a professional network is important. No one can think of everything, and a strong professional network can bring new ideas to the table — along with different perspectives, personal and professional advice, and emotional support.

Once entrepreneurs recognize the value of professional networks and learn how to start networking, the next hurdle is often how to ask for a favor professionally. We all know the feeling: a lump grows in your throat, your tongue suddenly ties, and you can just feel the flop sweats coming on.

Before you tuck your tail and abandon the request altogether, remember that overcoming that fear is essential to benefiting from your professional connections. It’s important to build mutually beneficial relationships with your network to help one another fuel your successes.

Finding the right words to ask for a favor isn’t always easy. Even as an experienced entrepreneur, I still get nervous from time to time and feel my confidence shaken. But through the years, I’ve found that asking for favors professionally really boils down to four simple rules:

  1. Be Direct

Remember, a lot of people do like to be helpful and appreciate the opportunity to assist others. Instead of assuming your connection won’t want to help you and floundering nervously on small talk to start the conversation, be direct. Just say this: “I was hoping you could help me out.”

Framing it directly and positively from the get-go will lower the risk of seeming like you’re just trying to get something out of your connection. What’s more, getting to the point quickly is much more efficient, and your connection will value your respect for their time.

  1. Be Complimentary

Think about why you are going to this person specifically for a favor. Do you like their ideas? Do they tend to have a unique perspective? Whatever the answer, let your connection know why you’re coming to them. Offering a compliment isn’t just considerate. It’s good etiquette when asking for a favor professionally. Sharing the reasons why this person is essential to whatever it is you’re asking makes it about more than just what they can do for you.

  1. Ask Ahead of Time

If you’re asking someone to go out of their way to help you, the last thing you want to do is rush them. Waiting until the very last minute is likely to make you appear unprepared and disorganized.

Instead, ask for what you need as soon as you know you need it. Having months to deliver a favor is a lot less stressful than having mere days or hours, and you want to make your request as easy as possible to fulfill.

  1. Show Your Gratitude. 

You don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who takes but never gives. Asking for a favor should never feel like you’re trying to pick someone’s pocket. You should always be prepared to reciprocate.

Even if your connection doesn’t ask for a favor directly in return, be on the lookout for ways you can help out. Can you cover them in a meeting when they have a conflict? Can you take anything off their plate when they’re having a busy day? Even simple actions such as bringing them coffee or treating them to lunch can show your gratitude and willingness to help out in the future.

The most successful professional relationships are win-win, and that means both parties benefit from each other. That’s why an essential step in networking is learning how to ask for a favor professionally. Especially for entrepreneurs just starting out, asking your connections for help can pave your path to success. Don’t be afraid to ask for favors from your professional networks — just be sure to demonstrate respect and gratitude when you do.

Source: score.org

Recruiting Hacks to Better Reach Transitioning Military, Veterans

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Black mature businessman working on laptop

By Katie Keller

Accelerating your defense hiring during a pandemic AND in a passive candidate market is a difficult task. With around 200,000 people transitioning out of the military each year, veterans are an obvious talent pool to tap into.

While cleared vet talent is out there, recruiters face tough competition in reaching the right veterans for the right opportunities. The good news is there are tricks you should have up your sleeve to differentiate yourself from the rest of the recruiting competition.

 

6 TACTICS TO REACH A TACTICAL AUDIENCE

Strategy #1: Choose job titles that are common and make sense to transitioning military

I once worked for a contractor that deemed a new position an ‘Intelligence Data Specialist’ and we naturally were receiving applications from candidates who were traditional All Source Analysts who had a little bit of experience in cleaning intelligence data sets – a secondary part of their job. After reading through the requirements from the government, the staffing team realized what they were really looking for was a Data Scientist who has worked with data from intelligence teams.

The title of the role you are looking to fill is not only essential to the job advertisement, but it can make a huge difference in the applications you receive and need to sift through. When deciding on a job title, you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes – what job would they be searching for online and hat would they recognize this job to be called? Use simple titles; so, if you’re seeking an All Source Intelligence Analyst, no need to be fancy. Call it what it is and familiarize yourself with the Military Occupational Specialties you could potentially be pulling candidates from.

Strategy #2: Foster relationships with military advocates or groups in the space

Decades ago, there weren’t nearly the number of networking groups for veterans there are today. These groups are almost always seeking partner organizations to serve as employment options for this audience. These can include Transition Assistance Programs at the military installations close to your customer sites, Hiring Our Heroes, state Department of Veterans Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, USO, regional Chamber of Commerce groups, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and so many more.

Recruiters are selling their company mission, positions, and benefits to candidates, but you should also start to sell these things to empowered voices in this space, so you have other allies advertising how amazing your organization is.

Strategy #3: Keep your website and career pages current

This is a problem that most are guilty of, whether it’s caused by time or forgetfulness for such a simple task: company pages that are outdated or simply state “send resumes to careers@awesomecompany.com. The former shows that you don’t have a dedicated staffing team and the latter could imply that you’re just doing a catch-all for resumes. It is a buyer’s market, so you need to list positions to specific audience to encourage them that you have the very best fit for only them. Working in the defense sector and high-tech may not always go hand-in-hand, but you need to highlight to candidates that you are an innovative contractor in this space. A website is the bare minimum in 2020, and it needs to be a box that is checked.

Ensure your recruitment page is up-to-date with detailed roles, and ensure you have an RSS feed linking to any external or third-party pages listing your jobs. This automates your team’s process and can save so much time.

Transitioning military are seeking confidence boosters when they are moving into the private sector, and a blank careers page certainly won’t give them that.

Strategy #4: Mirror your audience and become a passive recruiter

It’s been this way for some time, but the ball is most of the time in the candidate’s court. And you’ll find that when sourcing from active duty audiences online, some won’t list their ETS date. You’ll be sourcing from 50 candidates, and maybe half of them are not out of the military for another year or two. Do not ‘Bye, Felicia’ these candidates! They have access to a huge pool of potential candidates you can tap into, so be nice, network, keep their information on a pipeline list, and see if they know anyone who matches your requirements now that is ETSing sooner.

Strategy #5: Develop a fellowship program for active military

Active military are looking to dip their toe in the contracting waters 6 months from their out-day. Some positions (deployable, management, etc) might be off-limits, but consider allowing some overhead positions for a fellowship program. While some established contractors and agencies create their own fellowship programs for active military, Hiring Our Heroes offers a program that can do some of the legwork for contractors that are small to mid-sized and may not have the resources.

This can serve as an excellent trial run (and advertisement) for your company and the company culture you can offer.

Strategy #6: Use social media wisely and utilize outlets that make sense

In today’s digital world and more so due to COVID-19, staffing teams are completely operating online and are participating in social media recruiting. While active military and veterans are allowed to engage in online networking, they are encouraged to abide by OPSEC principles on public platforms. When reaching out to this audience, be upfront, transparent, and send additional information like your website, or connect over email.

Simply using traditional recruitment processes and public-facing sites may not be enough. Promote new roles via ClearanceJobs where you can appeal to a much larger (and definitely cleared) audience.

Source: ClearanceJobs

Five Tips for Women Veteran Entrepreneurs

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business woman leaning towards table with her hand extended on keyboard interested in an open laptop

By Natalie Rodgers

Transitioning from the military field into a new line of work can be difficult for any veteran, but this problem seems to be especially prevalent for women looking to transition into business ownership.

Veteran Airforce pilots and current business owners, Chassity Jackson and Patricia Frame, recently took part in a CNBC hosted seminar to discuss their best tips for women veterans looking to start their own businesses.

Here are five tips for aspiring women veteran entrepreneurs:

Know Your Industry

Of the millions of small businesses in the United States, it can be difficult to make your work stand out. Study the competition and decide what you would like to bring to the table. What will your company be bringing to the table that is different than everything else? What are the consumers of your product looking for and what are some typical frustrations they come across when they are trying to obtain it? Once you understand how your business fits into the industry, keep up on the latest news with competitors and customers to ensure you are fulfilling industry demands.

Networking is Key

Connect with other business owners, especially ones who are experienced in the field and can help mentor you through this new journey. Attending business conferences and networking events have always been a standard way to make these connections, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these conferences have switched to online platforms for business owners to easily utilize and converse through. LinkedIn is also a great source for networking. Make sure your profile is up to date to seem as presentable and professional as possible to new connections.

Know Your Audience

When a business is first starting out, its crucial to understand who the target audience is for the project. Start off by testing a select number of products to your customers and observe what sells and what doesn’t do as well. As you get to know your clientele, it will be easier to figure out how to best allocate your resources and where to put your money to receive the most profit.

Have the Funds

Once you have a business plan, you want to make sure that your business is going to be properly funded. Though many have used their own source of income to help get their company off the ground, there are a number resources that that veterans can utilize to get started. One of the most well-known ways is through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides low cost loans to veterans, military personnel, and their families.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that veterans will just be given money because of their status–a misconception that has been believed by many current and former military personnel in the past. Raising money through pitching competitions and crowd funding campaigns are other significant ways that you can allocate the proper funds you need for your business.

Be Willing to Change

In the midst of COVID-19, companies are preparing now more than ever for unprecedented circumstances their business may face. Many businesses have closed due to repercussions from the pandemic and you don’t want yours to be one of them. Make sure you have a back-up plan should something drastic happen to your everyday routine. How will you continue to provide your products to customers if a lockdown occurs? Can you utilize the internet to help your customers in times of need?

It’s also critical to make sure that you have a cushion to fall back on should a situation arise. Put some of your profits aside as often as you can to create a money reserve to fall back, just in case.

Source: CNBC

Military Veteran Uses Experience and Corporate Background to Run His New Mobile Business

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The way Jason Colon sees things, his background provided him the perfect combination of skills to become a small business owner.

It all came to fruition this past December when the 46-year-old Rocky Mount resident became a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International of Winterville serves customers throughout East Raleigh, Knightdale, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Greenville and surrounding areas.

Colon spent 21 years in the United States Air Force before retiring from active duty. He didn’t skip a beat, transitioning into a corporate career where he spent almost six combined years in operations working for two global corporations, both providers of technology and manufacturing services worldwide. “I think each of the career paths provided a different set of tools to prepare me for being part of the Floor Coverings International family,” Colon said. “My time in the military prepared me to run process and support people. And my time in Corporate America provided the customer experience education and tools, while also giving me the ability to realize my various skill sets and bring them all together to be a successful small-business owner.”

In Floor Coverings International, Colon found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. For this, Floor Coverings International was given the Innovation Award for Customer Response from Franchise Update Media, the benchmark publication and conference entity that is the Gold Standard of Franchising.

“I wanted to have more control of what happens to my future and Floor Coverings International gives me that opportunity,” Colon said. “When COVID-19 struck, it wiped out the aviation industry and jobs were not plentiful. Getting on board with Floor Coverings International was the best path for me.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA-based Floor Coverings International has been ranked consistently as the No. 1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 142 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3,000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and alongside existing lighting, paint, and furniture. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in 2021.

For franchise information, please visit opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Walmart Shares Additional Plans to Support Veterans & Military Spouses

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businessman shaking hands with veteran with U.S. flag behind them

By Brynt Parmeter, Senior Director, Military & STEM Programs, Walmart

Walmart has a rich history of supporting veterans over the years, starting with the company’s first veteran, founder Sam Walton.

Earlier this year, Walmart announced that it had achieved its Veteran’s Welcome Home Commitment of 250,000 veterans hired since 2013.

To date, the company hired over 320,000 veterans and military spouses since the beginning of that commitment, and its focus on supporting and hiring veterans only continues.

As a veteran myself, I feel a sense of excitement for what is coming. In 2021 and beyond, we’re planning to advance veteran and military spouse economic opportunity and well-being through initiatives spanning across four focus areas, including employment, learning, entrepreneurship and health & wellness.

Here are some of our new focus areas for the year ahead:

  • Launching the Find-a-Future Platform: Launching early next year, this new platform will guide military-related prospects through an audit of their current skills, experience and education. It will foster conversations about a wide range of future possibilities and aspirations and then help teach them how to build a road map and the connections to achieve their goals.
  • Continued access to $1 a day education: We continue to offer Veterans, and all frontline associates, the opportunity to work at Walmart and complete a debt free education through our Live Better U program. This enables veterans to pass along service-related educational benefits with their families, while also upskilling for the future of work in a short amount of time.
  • Entrepreneurship:Veteran-owned businesses (VOBs) offer a tremendous opportunity to empower veterans and to fuel economic growth. By connecting veteran and military spouse-owned businesses with organizations, resources and information we are helping empower them to launch their products or bring their ideas to life.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care:Walmart Health is increasing access to health care for veterans through both telehealth and in-person visits when a VA facility is not easily accessible. In addition to great health care, we are also focused on providing job opportunities for individuals well-suited for placement in the health care industry.
  • Support from other veteran associates:At Walmart, we have several Associates Resource Groups (ARGs) focused on creating communities of support. Our SERVES ARG for veterans, military families and allies is the first of our Walmart ARGs that has expanded to include our veteran associates working in our stores, clubs, DCs and corporate offices. The SERVES leadership teams at the Home Office, Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club and the Supply Chain are organizing and preparing for a variety of initiatives related to recruiting, onboarding, learning, leader development and supporting each other and our communities.

At Walmart, the future for veterans and military spouses is bright. I feel honored to be on this journey and look forward to seeing the progress we will continue to make together. In my opinion, one of the most meaningful ways to thank a veteran for their service is to give them the opportunity to continue to serve a mission – long after they have served their country. We are aiming to do just that.

Source: Walmart

Marines, rejoice: Someone made crayons that are actually meant to be eaten

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cartoon image of solder in uniform sqatting down with crayon in hand

Marine veteran has spent the last several years trying to turn a joke at the Corps’ expense into a successful business, and it looks like he’s nearly there with Crayons Ready to Eat. Created by Frank Manteau and Cassandra Gordon, Crayons Ready to Eat are not only edible, but writable chocolate crayons that come in a range of colors — though unlike those actual little color spears and waxy-practice-pencils, these have a triangular shape, and that’s by design.

“It’s so they don’t roll off a table,” Manteau said, and so “parents, [noncommissioned officers] and [staff noncommissioned officers] can say ‘this is okay to eat because of its shape,’ and ‘this one is not okay to eat.’”

They also come in packaging modeled after the military’s Meals Ready to Eat, hence the name Crayons Ready to Eat — and yes, a lot of this humor is on the nose, but considering that 90 percent of those reading this story will be Marines, I wanted to break it down Barney Style for my fellow ‘crayon eaters.’

Now, if you’re a little confused on some, or all of the above, and find yourself wondering: What does eating crayons — something you expect from a young child without adult supervision — have to do with being a Marine? Well, you’re not alone. Manteau was a bit lost back in 2017 when he learned that Marines had added ‘crayon eaters’ to an already long list of nicknames.

“When I was in the Marine Corps we were not crayon eaters,” said Manteau, a former infantryman who served from 1995 until 2002. “We were not crayon eaters,” he said again, just for emphasis. “We were jarheads, grunts, ground pounders, bullet sponges.”

The term, its mocking tone, and its origins piqued his curiosity, so he started to ask around “Where did this come from?” he wondered, but nobody knew.

“I could not figure out how we became crayon eaters,” he said. And while there were plenty of memes, and even a few videos that referenced, or fully embraced the “Marines are dumb and eat crayons” joke, none of it explained how that came to be. Instead, he simply accepted it as the new normal for Marines; So long ‘Devil Dogs,’ we’re ‘crayon eaters’ now.

So Manteau accepted the joke and wore it like a badge of honor “in true Marine Corps fashion,” he said. “We embrace every joke that comes at our expense and we will make it our own. We will laugh with you, not be laughed at by you.”

Manteau is right after all: ‘Leatherneck’ and ‘Devil Dog’ are hardly laudatory nicknames; one is a reference to an uncomfortable uniform item that Marines long ago had to wear; the other, according to Marine Corps lore, was bestowed on World War I Marines by horrified German soldiers. And let’s not forget ‘jarhead’ which was most definitely meant to be an insult, but instead had to settle for being the third-best nickname.

As for how a joke about being in the Marine Corps is a lot like being in kindergarten segued into an idea for a business, well, that’s another matter. (Now, it’s worth noting that there have been other Marines who tried to turn the ‘crayon eater’ trope into a business, or at least a product, like the Marine vet who created edible crayons through her company, Okashi Sweets, though the venture appears to have been short-lived as the link to the site is now broken.)

Manteau, a carpenter by trade, said the idea began to take shape while he was working on an art project, and just so happened to find himself drawing on a piece of wood near a box of crayons. Without thinking, as he reached for a different color crayon, he put the one he was using in his mouth and began to chew.

“And then it hit me: Maybe there is something to people chewing on crayons,” he said. Naturally, the next thought was: Okay, so how do you make a crayon that’s meant to be gnawed upon?

Immediately, Manteau called up Cassanda Gordon, a former colleague and pastry chef.

“Can you make chocolate writable?” he asked. “She said ‘yes,’ and that’s all I needed to hear,” Manteau said.

By September 2017 she’d developed a working model for edible and writable crayons.

Read the complete article on Task & Purpose here.

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