Kellie Pickler: On a Mission to Serve

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Collage of Kellie Pickler images

Interview and Story by Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

Not everyone has been called to serve as a member of our Armed Forces, but country star, actress, television host and philanthropist Kellie Pickler feels it’s her duty to serve the called.

By partnering with the USO (United Service Organizations), one of the nation’s leading nonprofit charities dedicated to members of the military and their families, Pickler, alongside other celebrities, gets the chance to give back to a community that means the world to her. “They have enabled me to be a part of something that matters,” she shared. “Working with the USO, it’s really all about keeping the families connected and keeping our servicemen and women connected with their loved ones.

We take a piece of home to them…when we do holiday tours, we take a professional athlete, a singer, comedian, actor, actress and just develop this show with them. We sign [autographs], laugh; we take pictures. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner. If they’re stationed somewhere where their families are able to be with them, we have family day. We get to break bread together and laugh and share their stories…break up the monotony of what they do.”

And Pickler, a North Carolina native, was a great choice for this role because she is a wiz at putting on a show. The now 35-year-old got her start in the industry in 2005 on the fifth season of American Idol, finishing in sixth place.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 27: Kellie Pickler sings with the U.S. Army Chorus at the American Veterans Center’s “American Valor: A Salute to Our Heroes” Veterans Day special on October 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

Her debut album sold over 900,000 copies, was certified gold and produced three top 20 singles on the Billboard “Hot Country Songs” charts. During her music career, Pickler has won or been nominated for numerous awards, such as the CMT Music Awards Breakthrough Video of the Year, Top New Female Vocalist of the Year, Female Video of the Year, Collaborative Video of the Year and Performance of The Year. She’s also won the prestigious Songwriter Award twice from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

Later, after the release of her fourth studio album, The Woman I Am, Pickler went on to win the sixteenth season of Dancing with the Stars, alongside professional dancer Derek Hough in 2013. She would also go on to star in two successful television programs, I Love Killie Pickler, a reality show about her life with husband Kyle Jacobs, as well as Pickler & Ben, a daytime talk show she hosted for two years alongside influencer Ben Aaron.

Pickler has also starred in television movies for Hallmark, Christmas at Graceland, Wedding at Graceland and The Mistletoe Secret. However, for Pickler, these achievements are not the hallmark of her career or representative of her purpose. “…accolades, awards, that don’t matter. People matter,” Pickler said. “You never wake up after doing the right thing and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t done the right thing there.’ It’s easy to be kind; it’s easy to love your neighbor.”

NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 29: (L-R) Kyle Jacobs, Recording Artist Kellie Pickler, Allison Baker, Andi Zack-Johnson and Ken Johnson attend the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ ROll Nashville Marathon on April 29, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for St. Jude)

For Pickler, her real job is about what happens offstage, “I know that I was not put on this Earth to just be a country singer, performer and entertainer. That’s just my vehicle to get me through the door. I know what my calling is. I know that my purpose in life is to be a voice for the broken, to be a sanctuary for people.

I’m not perfect by no means. I know my heart. I know my integrity. And that’s not for sale. I feel very blessed to be in a position where I can use my gifts and blessings…” As a USO Ambassador, Pickler is excited about taking the opportunity to give back to those who she knows are prepared to give everything for our citizens and our country.

According to her, “It’s imperative that they know (and that the families know) that we have their backs too. It takes a very selfless person to do what they do.” She is especially sensitive to the families of servicemembers, “The families serve. I’m very close with many Gold Star Families and Gold Star Wives. The USO is a community that’s very, very much needed.

When someone gets that folded flag at their front door, that dreaded conversation, it’s imperative that they have community around them, to love them, help them, be there for their children…The USO has kept so many families connected, and even connected me with these families, in a way that I can have a relationship with them and let them know that they aren’t alone.”

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN: Kellie Pickler signs autographs after performing for U.S. service members as part of USO’s holiday tour.
(Photo by /The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The USO sponsors many programs with these goals in mind and works in over 250 locations. Their programs, predominately, fall into one of four categories: Unites, Delivers, Entertains or Transitions. Each category represents one part of the mission to keep servicemembers in touch with the places, people and positivity they need to keep going.

Programs include, but aren’t limited to: the Bob Hope Legacy Program, which helps servicemembers read to their children virtually; USO Coffee Connections, which gathers military spouses together at monthly gatherings in comfortable spaces where they can share and relate; USO Care Package Program, which delivers familiar snacks, toiletries and hygiene essentials to troops, predominately those overseas; and of course their many resources for those transitioning (or who have transitioned) out of military service.

Participating in the promotion of these programs, as well as having the chance to meet and link with servicemembers and their families, has been a dream for Pickler.

Though she and her immediate family did not come from a military background, she still feels as though she can serve, love on and relate to these families in her own way.

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 07: Singer Kellie Pickler (L) and Staff Sgt. Baily Zimmerman perform onstage during ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute To The Troops in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ACM)

“We all have so much more in common than we realize,” she said. “I do feel that in my line of work, the music business is all about putting truth in the form of a song. I believe that there’s several songs of mine that have been autobiographical where I was able to put a pinprick of my life into a song. But it’s helped people heal. I do believe in sharing parts of my story…” Pickler continued, saying that her time, her story and her music have “brought people together and helped people find closure in whatever it is that they’re going through.” And that’s where the fulfillment comes from for her.

“There are countless things that the USO has done [for our servicemembers], and, again, it’s been just very life changing for me to be a part of the USO family. I feel that’s the way that I can serve those who serve.”

Small Resume Mistakes that could cost you the job

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professional man posting resume to laptop

By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

As many Americans find themselves back on the job hunt, candidates are polishing their interview skills and, of course, updating their resumes. But what exactly should one be looking for to strengthen their resume and help it stand out from the crowd and get past those pesky AI systems?

Here are some small mistakes that could be slowing your resume down in a big way:

1. Outdated Keywords
Words are important, but which words have the most impact in your field can change in the blink of an eye. As technology updates and social standards progress our business expectations, jargon shifts, thus the words that applicant tracking AI systems and human recruiters are looking for on your resume inevitably changes too. As you review your resume, make sure to use search engines and job postings from your industry to find the skills and experiences being asked for the most. Make a list. Then, use it to align your keywords with what recruiters want to see.

2. The Wrong Formatting
The number one focus of every resume should be readability! Unless you’re a graphic artist seeking a design-focused occupation or a similar type of creative role, your resume does not have to be visually striking. Usually, a simple, clean design and format that is easy to read and scan is the best option. It is alright to use a resume template but tweak it, so it doesn’t look like every other resume that hits the human resources desk. Edit your resume to have a standard font, plenty of white space, bullet points instead of paragraphs and concise statements. Also, consider changing written numbers to numerals to conserve space and using the percent sign (%) instead of the word. Finally, make sure your style and formatting choices are consistent throughout the page.

3. Bad Grammar and Mechanics
After correcting confusing formats or unreadable style choices, your next step is to run your resume through some proofreading software or hire a professional editor. After looking at it repeatedly, it can be easy to miss basic typos, grammar mistakes or other small errors. So, take your time when everything is finished to review your resume one more time and use a program or second set of eyes as well, especially if checking grammar and mechanics is not your strongest skill. Asking friends and family to assist can be helpful during this step.

4. Listing Old Positions
Always list your most recent and most relevant positions towards the top of your resume. If you have been using the same or similar resume for several years, it might be time to look it over from top to bottom and delete some more entry-level positions, especially those over 10 years old. Not only will this help consider space, but it will also make your resume stronger because it focuses on the most pertinent and fresh experience you’ve accumulated.

5. Forgetting to Update Contact Information
During your review process, it is easy to miss small details like contact information. So, be sure to confirm everything is up-to-date. Maybe it’s time to consider creating an email specific to job searches? Use a professional email address for communication and a good phone number where you can be easily reached.

6. Irrelevant/Outdated Skills
It’s time to take Microsoft Office proficiency off of your skills list. It’s almost an assumed skill nowadays for most office and administrative roles. Similar to updating your keywords, skills should be relevant and pulled directly from the job postings and online role descriptions that show up most often in your industry research. Furthermore, think about what you’ve accomplished in recent years: Were you in a new program at your current or most recent position? Did you take a class? Have you been leading team meetings? Incorporate these skills into your new resume.

7. Using Dated Phrases
An easy way to date yourself as an older or less up-to-date job seeker is using outdated phrases. For example, “references available upon request” or any mention of references is unnecessary as most online applications ask for them separately, or your recruiter will be sure to mention them if needed.

8. Saving the File Incorrectly
This last one may come as a surprise. Simply saving your resume under the filename “resume” may make organization easier for you; however, it makes your resume one amongst many unidentifiable files on the computer of a hiring manager. Including your first and last name in the resume file name along with the word “resume” helps it point to you as an individual before it’s even opened. Furthermore, unless otherwise requested, make sure to save your file as a PDF so that all of the careful formatting and style choices you worked on will be preserved.

New Military Film – DOG – In Theaters February 18, 2022 Starring Channing Tatum

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Dog the movie promo poster with Channing Tatum

DOG is a buddy comedy that follows the misadventures of two former Army Rangers paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime.

Army Ranger Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) buckle into a 1984 Ford Bronco and race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time.

Along the way, they’ll drive each other completely crazy, break a small handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards in order to have a fighting chance of finding happiness.

DIRECTED BY | Reid Carolin & Channing Tatum
STARRING | Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Luke Forbes, and Ronnie Gene Blevins
STORY BY | Reid Carolin & Brett Rodriguez
SCREENPLAY BY | Reid Carolin

WATCH THE TRAILER:

The Many Saints of Newark

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The Many Saints of Newark movie promo poster

“The Many Saints of Newark” is the much‐anticipated feature film prequel to the groundbreaking HBO series The Sopranos. 

Anthony Soprano is growing up under the influence of his uncle Dickie Moltisanti, the man who will help make the impressionable teen into the all-powerful mob boss: Tony Soprano.

Click to see more!

Twitter:
@newarkmovie

Instagram:
@newarkmovie

#themanysaintsofnewark

Army bluegrass band releases viral Christmas song

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member of the Six String Band holding a guitar and smiling

The holiday season is in full swing with Christmas music playing on every radio station. And the Army band known the Six-String Soldiers got in on the action too with a viral hit released to Facebook.

Released on Thanksgiving day the band’s music video, “18 Wheel Chrome & Steel Sleigh” has been viewed more than a million times.

“I wanted to do like a truck driver type of song but for Christmas, with a Christmas setting,” Sgt. First Class Brandon Boron told Military Times. “I just got this idea for this song where something happened to Santa’s sleigh, or the reindeer and he had to take his he had to take a seat to deliver the toys.”

Boron, a musician with the U.S. Army Field Band, wrote the song and plays the guitar as well as providing the vocals.

“It’s always a big thrill for us when we get such a positive reaction from the people out there,” he said. “It’s our first original that got over a million views on any kind of video I’ve done. It’s new experience for us in that respect.”

The Six-String soldiers was started in 2015 by Master Sgt. Peter Krasulski. He and Sgt. First Class Glenn Robertson founded the band so that they could focus on creating their own style of music.

“Six-string soldiers kind of evolved out of another group that was a part of the field band around 2015,” Krasulski said. “It was also the first time that really kind of any group from the field band had started doing videos for the purpose of social media. So back in 2015, we started having our first viral videos.”

The band, which also has Staff Sgt. Joseph Bennet on guitar, mandolin, and vocals, and his wife Staff Sgt. Renee Bennet on fiddle and vocals, is currently in Nashville, where it hopes to to the produce more original music.

Read the complete article posted on the Army Times here.

Pictured in photo: Six-String Band Facebook Page: Sergeant 1st Class Glenn Robertson, Six-String Band, United States Field Band.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show To Be Streamed Online December 18 – 25, 2021 With All Proceeds Going Directly To Veterans Services

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VetsAid logo

Joe Walsh, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and multi-GRAMMY Award winning musician invites you into his home for his 5th annual VetsAid music festival, an offering of his national 501(c)3 non-profit veterans organization. The Basement Show will be streamed live from his basement studio on December 18th and will feature performances by Walsh with special guests including Ringo Starr, a tour of his studio and some of his home guitar collection and a fan submitted Q&A as moderated by his wife Marjorie Walsh and stepson Christian Quilici, who are both VetsAid co-founders.

The stream will also include never before seen footage from the first four VetsAid offerings and from a recent visit Joe made to the US Vets Long Beach facility. As VetsAid festivals are typically planned near military bases and last year’s pandemic prohibited any in-person meetings, it was important and gratifying for Joe to be able to meet safely with vets of varying generations at US Vets Long Beach Social Hall where participants were able to share their stories of transition out of homelessness, thoughts on the present homelessness crisis across the country and messages of hope. The visit was topped off with a performance and storytelling session about “Life’s Been Good.”

“I’m always so inspired by the incredible service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families – and this year I had the honor of visiting with some of them in Long Beach and I look forward to sharing some of that visit in the stream on December 18th. Supporting and being of service to them is the sole aim of VetsAid,” Walsh said. “and while we couldn’t be together in Columbus as originally planned, I thought I’d do something special and invite everybody over to my house instead! So c’mon and join us for some great music and a glimpse of how I live, work, play and make music with my friends! That’s a lotta Joe!”

It is fitting that this year’s concert comes from Walsh’s home as Veterans and their wellbeing have always been a family affair for Joe as a Gold Star son himself. His father was a flight instructor for the first US operational jet powered aircraft, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and died while stationed and on active duty on Okinawa when Walsh was 20 months old.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show will be streamed live on December 18, 2021 at 8:00pm EST (with restream available through December 25, 2021) and is a ticketed event with livestream passes and merch bundles available now from $15 via vetsaid.veeps.com. vetsaid.veeps.com.

Joe Walsh launched VetsAid on September 20, 2017 with an inaugural concert at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA. The second festival event was in Tacoma, WA and the third in Houston, TX.  VetsAid typically seeks to host the events in cities across the country with large veteran populations.The shows have included performances by musicians including James Taylor, Chris Stapleton, Don Henley, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, The Doobie Brothers, Zac Brown Band, Jason Isbell, Keith Urban, Haim, Gary Clark Jr. and Joe’s brother-in-law Ringo. VetsAid 2020 saw the festival move online during the COVID pandemic with more than 40 participating artists that included Willie Nelson, Eddie Vedder, Gwen Stefani, James Hetfield and Jon Bon Jovi.

To date, VetsAid has disbursed $1.8 million dollars to organizations that support veterans and their families. All net proceeds from the 2021 streaming festival will go directly to the veterans’ services charities selected through a vetting process coordinated in tandem with the Combined Arms Institute. Criteria for this year’s selection process will focus exclusively on our homeless veterans and the resettlement efforts of our Afghan allies.

For more information, please visit www.vetsaid.org.

‘Top Gun’ Barbie Is Here to Help Us Wait for Maverick’s New Movie

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Mattel BArbie Doll Phoenix stands on airplane runway in military uniform holding her helmet on hip

November 19 was supposed to be the day that we finally got to see “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters, but Tom Cruise and the suits at Paramount kicked the release yet again to May 27, 2022.

Maverick fans can console themselves with the official “Top Gun: Maverick” Barbie doll, inspired by the movie character Natasha Trace, call sign “Phoenix.”

“Top Gun” and Barbie fans can buy the limited edition doll for $39.99 at Mattel’s Barbie.com website. You also can buy one at Target, Walmart or Amazon. There’s a limit of two dolls at the Barbie website, so you may need to act fast if you want to buy one.

The doll comes with a pilot’s helmet and a jumpsuit that includes signature patches. Phoenix also sports aviator sunglasses, dog tags and a watch. Our aviator has everything she needs to succeed at the hyper-competitive Top Gun school.

We have no idea what Phoenix’s role will be in the story of “Top Gun: Maverick,” but we do know that she’s played by Monica Barbaro, best known for her roles on the television shows “UnREAL,” “Chicago Justice” and “Stumptown.”

Will Phoenix emerge as Top Gun champion in the new movie? Will she meet a Goose-like fate? We’re going to have to wait another six months to find out the details.

Read the original article posted on Military.com.

Morgan Freeman: Always With Purpose

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Morgan Freeman collage of professional photos

By Samar Khoury

The world knows Oscar winner Morgan Freeman for his box office hits, like The Shawshank Redemption, Invictus and Bruce Almighty, among many others. But there is so much more to this acting legend than his performances on stage and screen, for Freeman is a philanthropist and humanitarian whose contributions have made a difference in the lives of so many. This year alone, aside from filming three movies, the Air Force veteran has made it his mission to spark change — most recently lending his powerful voice to call for police reform.

In June, Freeman and criminal justice professor Linda Keena at the University of Mississippi donated $1 million to the university to create a Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform – the only one of its kind in the state and one of only a few in the nation. The purpose of the center is to research and implement the best practices for training police around the country, as well as train how police can better engage the community in crime prevention.

“Look at the past year in our country – that sums it up,” Freeman said. “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase ‘To Serve’ found on most law enforcement vehicles.”

The star’s work doesn’t stop there. After indie film The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain premiered at the Austin Film Festival, Freeman and Revelations Entertainment (his independent movie production company) partner Lori McCreary jumped on the opportunity to be executive producers for the film, which was released in theaters in September. The film recalls the final moments of Kenneth Chamberlain – a 68-year-old Black veteran killed by White Plains, N.Y. police in 2011 after accidentally setting off his medical alert. Police broke down the door to his apartment and shot Chamberlain twice in the chest. No charges were brought against the police in a 2012 jury trial.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a movie scene.
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ (Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images)

“All of the news coverage this past year, about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and all of the other stuff that’s been going on, this movie I think sort of narrows it all down to what is necessary here, and to my way of thinking, what was necessary here is police reform,” Freeman told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have to get another way of doing policing in the community. Policing is for help, it’s not law enforcement, and I think this movie points that out.”

But this is just scratching the surface of what Freeman has accomplished. His activism has only begun.

From the Air Force to Stardom
Freeman was born on June 1, 1937, and grew up in a segregated community in Mississippi. There, he discovered his passion for film – he frequented the local movie theater and loved watching war movies, sparking his interest in becoming a pilot. In school, Freeman performed in school plays and competitions, and, not surprisingly, took on lead roles and won awards.

After he graduated from high school in 1955, Freeman turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University to enlist in the Air Force, working as radar technician for more than a year before training as a pilot. That’s when he realized flying was not right for him, thus receiving an honorable discharge as an airman first class in 1959.

Throughout his time serving out nation, Freeman’s interest in acting never left him. “When I got in and started to live that life [in the Air Force], it occurred to me that I had been functioning with my romance with movies. I had seen all these war movies, but you are thinking reality when it is all make believe,” he said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class.”

He found work on television in the children’s show The Electric Company, appeared on stage in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, winning an Obie Award, and then got his big break with his extraordinary performance in Street Smart.

After his Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Street Smart and his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and a second Oscar nomination for his role in Driving Miss Daisy, Freeman’s career began to skyrocket. In 1993, he directed his first film, Bopha!, and soon created Revelation Entertainment with Bopha! producer Lori McCreary.

Along the way not only has Freeman’s movie performances, as a lead actor, supporting actor and narrator, resulted in global box office totals of over $10 billion, but according to Forbes he is the “most trusted voice in the world.

Currently, he is set to lead upcoming thriller Muti with Yellowstone star Cole Houser. The film, set for release next year, will follow a detective who, unable to cope with his daughter’s death, hunts down a serial killer who murders based on a tribal ritual: Muti. The only person who can help him is Freeman’s character, an anthropologist hiding a secret. In addition, to his film work, he has a series coming to History Channel in the fall: Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman. The show tells true stories of prison breaks, most of which failed.

Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Activist, Philanthropist and Go-Getter Acting isn’t the only thing Freeman is passionate about – it turns out that he has a heart of gold, and he’s committed to making the world a better place. He is a driving force behind the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, has donated funds to help create the Morgan Freeman Equine Reproduction Research Unit at the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine and founded the Tallahatchie River Foundation committed to quality early childhood education in the state of Mississippi. It is a fundamental belief of Freeman that when children thrive by 3rd grade, they have the promise of a better future.

Freeman is also an advocate for Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education. The philanthropist has also hosted an online disaster relief auction for the American Red Cross, created a cookbook – Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause– and supports efforts to promote the use of clean-burning fuels in America.

“I firmly believe that alternative fuel supplies need to be developed to allow the US to wean itself off its significant dependence on foreign oil,” Freeman said. “Moreover, I feel that our development of alternative sources such as biodiesel fuel will help the environment, farmers and the economy in general.”

An active environmentalist, in 2014, he added honeybee hives to his Mississippi ranch after learning about their global decline. Since then, he has planted magnolia, clover, lavender and bee-friendly fruit trees, as well as ensured his farm is as sustainable as possible. “There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet,” Freeman said. “We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation.”

Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37.
Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Jennifer Moore)

Freeman, who was dubbed this year’s #VeteranOfTheDay, constantly advocates for human rights. From supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his federal holiday, the activist has always spoken out against injustice. “Fighting for equality is a celebration of independence. Fighting for black lives is a celebration of independence. #BlackLivesMatter,” Freeman said on Twitter.

In January this past year, Freeman made a point to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continues to make a difference. “In these trying times we must remember and uplift the good while rising above violence,” he said. “We must never forget about him. Today, we must remember to keep the dream alive. So be kind, show love to one another, help pave the way for equality and justice and have faith that our great country can recover from anything. Because through this we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

As far as we’re concerned, Freeman has kept the dream alive.

“I can say that life is good to me. Has been and is good. So, I think my task is to be good to it. How do you be good to life? You live it.”

2021’s Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live

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Close up of male hand packing property in cardboard box with spouse in the background

With Veterans Day approaching and the veteran unemployment rate falling to 3.9% from the average of 6.5% in 2020, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2021’s Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live.

The report compares the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics, ranging from the share of military skill-related jobs to housing affordability and the availability of VA health facilities.

WalletHub also released the results of its 2021 Military Money Survey, which revealed that 77% of Americans agree that military families experience more financial stress than the average family.

To help with that, WalletHub’s editors selected 2021’s Best Military Credit Cards, which provide hundreds of dollars in annual savings potential.

Best Cities for Veterans
1. Tampa, FL
2. Austin, TX
3. Scottsdale, AZ
4. Raleigh, NC
5. Gilbert, AZ
6. Lincoln, NE
7. Madison, WI
8. Virginia Beach, VA
9. Orlando, FL
10. Boise, ID

Worst Cities for Veterans
91. Philadelphia, PA
92. North Las Vegas, NV
93. Cleveland, OH
94. San Bernardino, CA
95. Toledo, OH
96. Jersey City, NJ
97. Baltimore, MD
98. Memphis, TN
99. Newark, NJ
100. Detroit, MI

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-cities-for-veterans/8156

Q&A with WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez

What makes a city good or bad for veterans?

“How good or bad a city is for veterans depends on multiple factors, including the rates of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, as well as the city’s retirement-friendliness and how good its VA facilities are. All cities should be quick to take care of veterans’ needs, considering how much veterans have sacrificed to serve the country and keep it safe. However, some cities spend an appropriate amount of money on veterans affairs while others do not, either because they lack the funds to do so or because they do not put a high priority on veterans in the budget,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “While cities do have a responsibility to their veterans, so does the federal government. We spend an enormous amount of money on national defense and military operations, yet comparatively little on helping veterans once their service is done. It is distressing that there are tens of thousands of homeless veterans; that number should be reduced to zero.”

What can we do to reduce the financial stress on military families?

“The best way to reduce the financial stress on military families is by making sure that anyone in a war zone does not have to worry about their family’s basic living expenses while they’re fighting for our country. We should also improve financial education for members of the military community,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Military families can undergo a tremendous amount of financial stress, especially when one parent is on the front lines and cannot be involved with managing the family’s finances. Plus, service members who are in active conflicts put their lives at risk, which risks even more of a financial burden on their family in the event that they die or end up with a disability. The least we can do for our military families is to take care of their basic needs.”

Does the military do enough to teach financial literacy?

“The military unfortunately does not do enough to promote financial literacy among service members. Not only do 76% of Americans agree that the military is lacking when it comes to financial literacy education, according to WalletHub’s 2021 Military Money Survey, but nearly 2 in 3 people think it’s a national security issue. Financially literate people who serve in the military can worry less about money problems and focus more on their duties, and are also less susceptible to coercion by foreign powers,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “But it’s important to remember that the military is not alone in its financial literacy deficiency. Most employers and big organizations in the U.S. fail to provide adequate information as well. Even schools don’t give students enough financial education.”

How are veterans impacted by COVID-19?

“The COVID-19 pandemic led to a big spike in veteran unemployment, but has now recovered to 3.9%, not too far above the nearly historic low of 3.2% seen in 2019,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The pandemic is certain to increase homelessness among veterans, adding to the more than 37,000 veterans who were already homeless before it even started. There are millions of veterans who are over age 65, too, and the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been among people in that age group.”

Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day

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Sunken Roads movie Promotional poster featuring older veterans

Don McCarthy was 20 years old on D-Day, when his infantry division landed on Omaha Beach. Don and the other veterans who survived D-Day will someday soon have passed into memory and legend.

This realization inspires 20-year-old filmmaker Charlotte Juergens to join Don and seven other D-Day vets on a journey to France – a commemorative pilgrimage to Omaha Beach for the 70th anniversary of the invasion.

The vets come to see Charlotte as a granddaughter, trusting her with their stories as they confront the trauma that still haunts them 70 years after the war.

In capturing their lives, Sunken Roads offers an intergenerational perspective on D-Day, presenting the memories of 90-year-old combat veterans through the eyes of a 20-year-old woman.
 
 
Documentary by Charlotte Juergens.

Opens November 5, 2021 on Live & Virtual Cinema.

For details, visit the website at https://www.firstrunfeatures.com/sunkenroads.html

Should Veterans List Military Colleagues as a Reference?

LinkedIn
Information on military service in application form

Picking references for your resume, no matter what field you plan to go into, can be as difficult as it is important. References should understand your character, assets and be able to advocate for your inclusion in a position. But as military veterans, many transitioning into the work force wonder if they should include references they became acquainted with during the military.

In short, the answer is yes, including military personnel in your resume can be greatly beneficial in making your resume stand out, but let’s look at why.

Military Experience Carries Over

Veterans have an abundance of qualities that carry over to the work force, even if they look a little bit different applied in the field. Organization, quick-thinking, leadership, ability to take direction, teamwork, the ability to adapt and the ability to take action are all traits that are desirable in the job field that veterans have become experts in. Throughout your time in the military, you spend the most time with your military colleagues, making them the most qualified people to have witnessed and to speak on how you put these traits in action in real-life situations.

Their Status Heightens Yours

If you are able to include a higher rank or a commanding officer as a reference, this can be a fantastic asset to your resume. Job candidates without military experience will often list past supervisors, managers or bosses as references to speak on how they implemented desirable work ethic in their last jobs. Not only do veterans have the desirable work ethic many jobs are looking for, as learned in the military, veterans have had to acquire these skills in one of the most strict and high stakes institutions available. If you are able to list a higher-ranking individual on your resume, this shows employers that you not only have the work ethic they’re looking for, but have been able to implement it to the praise of a much higher expectation than what is expected in the workforce.

They Add Diversity

Many professionals suggest having at least two or three references in your resume that have witnessed your character in different aspects of your life. Many people have opted to include a mixture of professors, teachers, previous bosses, coworkers, friends with professional statuses, volunteer organizers and mentors as references to cover all their bases. This means that while you won’t want to make all three of your references related back to the military, including at least one or two military references as part of your resume will show the diverse range of approval that you have from different aspects of your life.

Things to Remember

Now that you see the value in including military references, here are a few tips to remember when including them:

  1. Talk to your references before you include them: Once you have picked a potential reference, you will want to ask them if they are okay with being included. This is not only common courtesy, but allows your reference to prepare “what to say” and “how to say” to best highlight your assets to a future employer. Asking permission will also allow for your references an adequate amount of time to write a letter of recommendation should you need one for your desired position.
  2. List their name, title and point of contact: When listing a reference, don’t forget to include their title and a point of contact, so potential employers can quickly understand the significance of the individual who can speak so highly of you. Different companies may have a preference for an email contact or a telephone number contact, but make sure you include at least one of those avenues on your resume
  3. Pick the correct people: Remember to pick people who not only have a professional or higher-ranking status, but individuals who you would trust for this process and can truly attest to your abilities. The more knowledgeable and more favorably someone can speak of you, the more confident they will make potential employers in hiring you.

Stepping into the job field after leaving the military can be a daunting experience, but remember that you may be more qualified and desirable across the job field than you might realize. With these references by your side, you will be out in the workforce in no time.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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