How Being a Veteran Has Helped Me in the Tech Field

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Alexis Blakes stands with arms folded in confident pose smiling

By Alexis Blakes

Discipline, leadership, teamwork and consistency. Regardless of when or how long you served in the U.S. military, you have displayed and witnessed these four key skills.

From the belly of the motor pool to the theatre of combat, these skills guide the actions of all service members and leaders so routinely that it often becomes second nature — heavily influencing the execution of both minor and major missions. These skills were instrumental in shaping and preparing me for both my career path and personal growth within the technology field, and it all starts with the defining principle.

Discipline Is Resolute

A defining principle is the primary objective that you are in pursuit of. The defining principle of a mission could be as conceptually simple as seizing the high ground or complex as mitigating operational mission costs. In either regard, the defining principle should be clear, concise and adaptable.

During my four-and-a-half-years on active duty with the U.S. Army, I was privileged to serve under leaders who exhibited profound foresight concerning mission objectives, and this in turn nurtured my ability to adapt to changes, anticipate problems and execute directives under unfavorable conditions. In the military, this once meant an unplanned five klick convoy movement around an endangered tortoise in the dead of night. But these days it looks more like maintaining operational capacity and availability of approximately $1 billion worth of data center cloud computing hardware and equipment during a potentially devastating wildfire season.

I’ve found that being a service member has put me at an advantage at work because nearly everything we do in the military — from maintaining living quarters in the barracks to traveling home on leave — requires a thorough plan, defining principle and discipline in execution. As a data center lead at Amazon Web Services, my defining principle is to promote the safest, most effective and cohesive environment possible for my team and this guides my actions daily. Discipline is resolute — even when motivation or morale may not be.

Real Leadership is a Commitment to the Team

While discipline is foundational, leadership and teamwork are supplemental. Both in tech and in the military, I was and am a member of a team. You might be a fast solo runner, but in formation you’re only as fast as the slowest runner, and that is an incentive to help others improve. Sometimes there are shared goals that can only be achieved together.

From pride to privilege, real leaders make sacrifices for others and lead from the front. Accepting this as truth, I try to embody this principle in my work. No task is beneath me. I have days where I’m back to doing physical repairs myself and days where I’m giving classes. My service taught me that leadership is more than being in charge. Sometimes this has meant stepping up to the plate in the absence of a superior and doing work outside of my role. If my team stays late, I stay late. If my team has a grievance, I have a grievance. If you want to go far, we go together. My commitment to the totality of the team even played a role in my promotion. Valuing my team members and assisting them makes the work that I do that much more rewarding.

Consistency is Showing Up, Every Single Day

Being a squared away soldier is a sum of many smaller habits executed every single day. Being consistent creates routine which promotes flow. If you maintain positive habits then you will reap positive returns. I still lay my clothes out the night before, show up 15 minutes early to work, conduct roll call and send out end of day updates to my team. Over time I have trained other leads to do the same. It’s important to show up every single day — including when it’s hard or even when you just don’t feel like it. Tech changes daily and you need to keep the same fire in your belly to keep up and excel. More than a career choice, it’s a lifestyle of curiosity and constant self-improvement.

As it stands, I believe that being a veteran has shaped my experience in tech for the better and given me the tools I need to navigate an ever-changing career landscape. From the moment I clock in to the moment I clock out, I call on my military experiences to assist me in my work. As I reflect on my military service, I can honestly say that I am better prepared for the tech field because of it.

Alexis Blakes is a lead data center technician at Amazon Web Services and an Army veteran who served as Nodal Network Systems Operator/Maintainer. She is also a second-year college student at Columbia Basin College.

Unique opportunities: Five entry-level jobs at VA you might not know existed

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woman working at VA meeting with veteran about benefits wearing face mask for social distancing

While you may immediately associate careers at VA with clinical roles and medical professions, there are a number of entry-level jobs that keep the wheels running smoothly.

Let’s take a look at five unique positions that you might not have realized are available on our team.

Administrative assistant

You’ll find administrative assistants in nearly every department at VA, working to assist administrative leadership and professional staff with clerical duties.
 
As an administrative assistant, you’ll have a healthy dose of responsibilities in your day-to-day work, as you’ll be integral to the smooth management of your department. Policies, budgets, fiscal management, personnel, logistics or even property management may fall to you in your daily duties.

Motor vehicle operator

Drive patient transport vehicles – including emergency vehicles, vans, buses and more – as a motor vehicle operator.

You’ll shuttle Veterans to and from VA Medical Center facilities, private health care facilities, Veteran’s homes or even railways, bus stations or airports. You might be called upon to operate cars, station wagons, vans, pick-ups and panel, stake or open-bed trucks.

In addition to driving, you will be responsible for the maintenance of your vehicles, both interior and exterior, keeping them in a clean and serviceable condition for your passengers. Inspecting your vehicles for wear and tear and reporting concerns to the appropriate department also falls under your responsibilities.

Prosthetic representative

A prosthetic representative helps provide prosthetic and sensory aids services to Veterans. They also work directly with Veterans and clinical teams to assist Veterans in applying for automobile adaptive equipment, home improvement and structural alterations, and clothing allowances.

You may also conduct home visits with other health care providers to assess a Veteran’s home for upgrades or equipment necessary to improving patient quality of life. Record-keeping is also a large part of the job, as you will be responsible for providing documentation management surrounding your efforts to assist Veterans.

Recreation therapist

Provide recreation therapy and diversional activities for the residents of VA’s Community Living Centers as a recreation therapist.

You’ll need a general understanding of the leisure needs of a variety of patient populations to evaluate the history, interests and skills of patients to establish better guidelines for individual projects.

You’ll also administer and interpret a wide variety of creative skills tests and interviews to evaluate mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical capabilities of patients. The ability to motivate others is essential, as you may need to encourage not only your patients, but those who assist you with the care of these Veterans, too.

Transportation assistant

A transportation assistant reviews and authorizes travel and lodging requests for Veterans traveling from their home to VA medical appointments.

As a transportation assistant, you may find yourself providing and coordinating transportation through VA resources or non-VA common carriers. You may also be making reservations for lodging for Veterans and their families, making sure all the necessary paperwork is complete to make their trip as smooth as possible.

Work at VA

Roles like these – whether administrativetechnical or support – may not immediately come to mind when you think of VA, but these roles are important to VA and the Veterans we serve. Browse these careers and more as your first step toward a career at VA.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

Military Veteran Finds Passion in Public Service: Meet NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton

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NFBPA’s Demetrius Payton poses in uniform and additional headshot within the same frame

On March 30, 2022, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), the principal and most progressive organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments, will host its Annual Forum in beautiful Grand Rapids, Mich.

The four-day conference allows public service professionals to gain practical and transferable skills they can apply immediately. It was events like Forum that drew Demetrius Payton to the organization. Demetrius Payton (pictured) is a director of infrastructure & operations at CPS Energy.

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally-owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service. Serving more than 840,750 electric customers and 352,585 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city. He is responsible for overseeing the Technical Services department, which includes the Infrastructure Server Team, Network Engineering & Collaboration Team and Data Center & Operations, which includes business process, compliance and patching.

Payton served 15 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. Payton retired after 10 years from military service where he served as a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Payton, who is originally from Leesville, La., holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wayland Baptist University. Payton also holds a Master of Arts in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University. In 2018, he completed the National Forum for Black Public Administrator’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP), a program dedicated to grooming African American managers for the rigors of executive positions in public service organizations.

NFBPA sat down with Payton to talk about his time in the service, challenges faced in civilian employment and inspirations:

How did the military prepare you for your career in local government?
The military allowed me to understand structure and protocol. The military also gave me stewardship experience with resources for our country. I have that same responsibility in my public sector career.

What were some challenges you faced in your career adjusting to civilian work?
I think the biggest challenge was around understanding all of the visibility and transparency required in this civilian job versus my military job. We have a Board and Senior Leadership Team that is required to approve capital procurement.

Three qualities needed to be successful in your role:
My role is director for infrastructure and operations, but I feel that a CIO has to be trustworthy, be able to communicate vision and set the stage for innovation in their organization.

Can you relate your military career to what you want to do next?
I think I always want to serve my community. I left a lucrative paying job in the private sector for an opportunity to work in the public sector. I feel like it’s my calling to serve others.

Who had the greatest influence on you growing up and in your career?
I had several influences that coached and mentored me throughout my military and civilian careers. But if I had to choose one individual, I would say it was my good coach Ralph Miles at the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence. He taught me things about being a good leader, a good teammate and a good human being.

Would you recommend local government after military life?
Local government and politics impact nearly every aspect of our lives. To me, going from the military to local government seems like a natural progression and a way for a member to impact their community.

What job in the military prepared you most for a career in local government / the public sector?
My last role in the military was Battalion S6 Security Officer.

If you could be or do anything else – what would you do or be?
Silly as it sounds, I would love to be an owner of a professional sports team. It’s been my dream since I was a little boy.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?
Determined.

Payton has been married to his wife, Michelle Payton for 32 years. They share three children and three grandchildren. He has been a member of his local church for over 34 years and his passion is fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

3 Tactics for Leveraging Your Military Career in the Private Sector

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Soldier working on a laptop with US Flag in the background

by Ben Garrison

The ability to find moments of joy can be a key to professional success. I find this as a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Dungeon Master, and I found it to be true in my 14 years in the Army.

Today in the private sector, I get great satisfaction when I’m able to walk a peer through a tech challenge and empower that person in their use of technology.

With D&D, you don’t know how things are going to turn out — but the journey is the joy. With the right mindset, the same can be true with the not-always-easy transition from military to civilian life. This uniquely challenging process faces the approximately 8.5 million veterans in today’s workforce, including nearly half a million veterans who are currently seeking employment. Employers may not be well informed about how your skills are transferrable to the private sector. Veterans may be facing the challenges of PTSD or other mental health issues associated with their service.

Fortunately, drawing on parallels can help you move beyond the challenges. So, to my veteran peers who are looking to work in or who already work in the private sector, I offer the following three tactics for success in the civilian workplace.

1. Leverage the flexibility you learned in the military.
I spent 14 years in the Army National Guard. I was aware that plans — for an individual, for the military, for our country — change instantly.

Many businesses change rapidly, too. That’s certainly the case with technology and has absolutely been the case as all of us adapt to the ongoing changes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s strategy won’t necessarily be tomorrow’s strategy. This uncertainty can be stressful or jarring for some, but veterans have a certain kind of superpower that comes with understanding how to cope with and thrive in a shifting environment.

2. Learn continuously.
In the Army, as well as in IT today, processes and equipment changed rapidly. New active-duty assignments brought new training (and retraining) requirements. The Army also taught me how to take many things in stride.

Tapping into your natural curiosity can point you in the direction of professional success. In my case, wanting to know how things work helped lead me toward a career in IT — first in the Army, then in the private sector. Learning on the fly, always part of the military experience, is excellent preparation for the workforce.

Our economy and its drivers are undergoing rapid change. Key to individual success in the midst of it all: the ability to learn and grow. This can take many forms. Become familiar with best practices for your job search, such as how to optimize LinkedIn and other job boards. Dig into the benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). Explore continuing education that will help you advance your particular career goals.

3. Communicate clearly.
In the military, when your supervisor needs information to make the right decision, you must be ready to provide your expertise efficiently and confidently — no matter your rank.

Interacting candidly with service members of all ranks and from all walks of life prepared me to communicate with teammates of all backgrounds. In the business world, you need to be as confident talking to your CEO as you are talking to any other colleague. Rely on your experiences to get your point across in a respectful way. Not only can this help you gain the ear and respect of senior staff, it will help you find the joy of personal “a ha!” moments when you deploy your expertise in a way that helps others.

The private sector presents new challenges and new opportunities. Remember: you’ve been in tougher situations. You can do this.

Following 14 years in the Army National Guard, Ben Garrison now serves as a Technical Evangelist for JumpCloud. He is a D&D Dungeon Master and player, and a self-proclaimed overall nerd.

The Top Trending Jobs for Veterans in 2021

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By Natalie Rodgers

Many military veterans are often left wondering where they should start the next chapter of their life post-military and where their skills may best be implemented.

While there is far more than one right answer to this question, here are some of the most popular jobs to consider post-military.

Consulting

Called one of the staple “magnets” for veterans, a career in consulting has proven to be a perfect fit for many post-military individuals. A consultant works to help other companies and organizations cut costs and properly utilize a budget whether it be for a big chain corporation, a government sector or a smaller business. Consulting positions are often steady, provide room for growth, and are open to hiring veterans as many consulting firms are owned by other veterans. Since consulting firms work so closely with many different kinds of businesses, a job in this field is also a great opportunity to explore other career paths that you may be interested in pursuing.

Government Agencies

The U.S. government is not only one of the country’s largest employers of veterans, but one of the most eager to add veterans to their staff. Many veterans have transitioned into careers for the national parks, homeland security, the Department of Transportation and even in firefighting. Government agencies are also, often times, committed to fair wages and providing resources to veterans to help them transition smoothly into their new career.

Information Technology

Not only does a career in IT come with a steady paycheck, but is becoming a more “relied upon” industry with every day. As you may already know, the military is depending on technology more than ever these days meaning that military veterans often bring home a set of IT skills that transfer nicely into the working world. Computer support specialists, analytic positions and database administrators are all slots that have popularly been filled by veterans at big name companies including Google and Microsoft. Many of these big-name technology companies even have special programs that specialize in recruiting military veterans.

Construction and Technical Skills

If you are a more tactical individual who thrives in building, assembling and repairing, then a career in construction and/or engineering might be the perfect job for you. Whether you want to hone your skills in plumbing, electricity, mechanics or construction, these industries are always looking for veterans many of them are even eager to provide specialized training resources to ensure success including trade school opportunities.

Healthcare

Especially for former military medics, the healthcare field is a popular choice for transitioning veterans. For military medics and those with healthcare experience, occupations as a nurse, EMT, paramedic and licensed practitioners are not uncommon, but you don’t have to have a medical degree to go into the field. With as little as a high school degree, veterans have followed careers in medical assistance working with administrative and clinical tasks in a healthcare setting. Jobs in healthcare are almost always in demand and resources are available to veterans to receive more in-depth training.

Law Enforcement

Every branch of the military has learned to protect others under the most severe circumstances. That being the case, working as a security guard, police officer or even with the FBI or CIA are all popular career choices for veterans. In fact, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has even stated that veterans are often hired because they already possess the desired skill set. Veterans looking for career in law enforcement additionally have training and hiring programs available to them from the federal government that can assist in an even smoother transition.

Military veterans have an abundance of options available to them, whether they appear on this list or not. But no matter what field you decide to pursue, know that there are employers eager to hire and plenty of resources to help you achieve your goals.

Sources: The Veteran Pro, Military.com, GoBankingRates and MoneyTalksNews

Should Veterans List Military Colleagues as a Reference?

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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.

From big to small, urban to rural, there’s a VA location for everyone

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man sitting at a desk at work smiling witha rms folded in work casual clothes

One of our favorite VA career benefits is the opportunity to work anywhere you want. So whether you want the amenities of an urban environment or the wide open spaces of a rural community, there’s a VA location for everyone.

As a VA employee, you can work with Veterans at any of our facilities across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and some U.S territories.

With 1,255 facilities to choose from, you have the option of living and working just about anywhere you might imagine. Big or small, though, each comes with its own diverse patient populations and its own benefits.

City living

In a recent poll surveying the best cities for Veterans to live in, St. Petersburg, Florida, scored high in both quality of life and health, as did Tampa. Similarly, high rankings in health care availability boosted several cities in California, including Anaheim, Oakland, and San Jose.

These rankings were determined by factoring in the number and quality of our facilities, showcasing that these denser urban locations provide broad access to services.

City living offers a variety of advantages, too. More parks, diverse schools, expanded small retail options, and broader public transit systems are all points in favor of living in more urban environments. VA facilities, too, are often denser in urban areas, which can mean more opportunities for advancing your career while providing Veterans with the health care they need.

Big sky country

Outside the big cities, though, rural VA operations are just as valuable, sometimes even more so. Our providers in rural locations can have a huge impact on the health of the entire community and can see the result of their care more holistically.

In turn, you can gain experience treating a broad range of health conditions. Rural communities often have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease. You’ll also interact with an aging population in greater need of health care services — 55% of rural Veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system are over the age of 65.

Rural providers enjoy some advantages that are not as common in urban locations: greater privacy, less traffic, more personal space, a greater sense of community, a lower cost of living, and access to the outdoors.

Across the board benefits

Whether urban or rural, in a facility big or small, you have access to an excellent range of benefits when you work at VA. Whatever your role, you have access to:

  • Flexible schedules. Our employees receive 13 to 26 paid vacation/personal days, as well as 13 sick days annually with no limit on accumulation, and we celebrate 11 paid federal holidays each year.
  • Robust insurance options. You can choose from a variety of health maintenance organizations or fee-for-service health plans, and all cover preexisting conditions. Your spouse, domestic partner, and children may also be eligible. Additionally, VA pays up to 75% of health premiums, a benefit that can continue into retirement.
  • Generous retirement packages. VA employees have access to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Similar to a 401(k) savings plan, the TSP allows employees to tax-defer a portion of their income each year, and the government automatically contributes 1% of your salary, with additional matching contributions up to a total of 5%. For retired military personnel, these benefits are in addition to full monthly retirement pay or pension.

Work at VA

Whether you choose the big city or the open frontier, we offer careers that grow with you and the chance to support our mission of providing the best care possible to Veterans.

Source: Vantage Point

Best Careers for Military Spouses

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military spouse and husband smiling in the kitchen

By Navy Federal

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

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

Research & Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the article posted on Navy Federal.

National Day Of The Deployed

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national day of the deployed October 26

On October 26th, National Day of the Deployed annually honors the United States military personnel deployed around the globe.

The designation recognizes all of the brave military personnel who have been deployed, are sacrificing, or have sacrificed their lives to defend our country.

It also acknowledges their families who are separated from them during deployment and the sacrifices they make in order for their family members to serve our country.
 

HOW TO OBSERVE #DayOfTheDeployed

Many deployed troops leave their families behind to serve their country.

They make the greatest sacrifices to keep their country secure. A few ways to recognize their services include:
 

  • Donate to a military organization like the USO. They support troops in the U.S. and overseas. The USO also provides support to the families before, during and after service.
  • Send care packages. Visit Support Out Troops to find out what and where to send care packages worldwide.
  • Locally, attend ceremonies honoring the military.
  • Volunteer your time and services to local military organizations.
  • If you know a military family, ask what support they need. Needs vary by family. Some just need to hear from home and know they are in your thoughts.
  • Offer to support military personnel who have no family. They deploy with no one back home to send care packages or other support.

Use #DayOfTheDeployed to post on social media.

NATIONAL DAY OF DEPLOYED HISTORY

Shelle Michaels Aberle founded National Day of the Deployed in 2006. Ms. Aberle approached then North Dakota Governor John Hoeven for support of a North Dakota Proclamation for the day. Governor Hoeven was the first governor in the United States to recognize deployed troops in a formal proclamation.

Aberle’s cousin, Bottineau ND native, David Hosna, was a deployed Major in the US Army for the first Day of the Deployed. Aberle chose October 26th as it was Hosna’s Birthday. He later retired as a Colonel.

  • Grand Forks, North Dakota hosted the first event and honored the NDARNG 1-188th ADA SECFOR and JLENS deployed to Afghanistan.
  • In 2011, Senator John Hoeven led the efforts and co-sponsored S.RES.295 for a national day of honor.  On October 18, 2011, the resolution passed unanimously for the first national day honoring deployed troops and their families.
  • As of 2012, all 50 states observed National Day of the Deployed.

For more national days to celebrate visit National Calendar Day.

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

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Army Veteran Jon Jackson on his farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farming start

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

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

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

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

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

Farming program origins

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

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

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

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

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

Building camaraderie

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

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

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

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

Advice for Veterans

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

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

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

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

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

From fire trucks to farming

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

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

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

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

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

Read the complete article posted on the VA website here.

What You Can Do to Successfully Transition from A Military Career

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: VA.gov

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Upcoming Events

  1. Joint Base San Antonio Veteran Job Fair
    December 16, 2021
  2. NatCon 2022
    January 6, 2022 - January 8, 2022
  3. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  4. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
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