Vietnam Veteran Continues Serving Others Through Legal Advocacy & Emergency Response

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By Sophia Chapple, KellyAnn Romanych, and Antoinette Balta, Esq., LLM

Like many fellow Vietnam veterans, Scot Douglas dedicates his life to service and remembrance of others. His hardworking nature to bettering the lives of fellow veterans is exemplified by his journey from voluntarily enlisting in the Army during the Vietnam War to eventually pursuing law to close the justice gap for veterans and military families.

As a former probono-turned-staff attorney, Douglas has helped more than 1,200 veterans gain priceless peace of mind through his tireless work at Veterans Legal Institute (VLI).

In all honesty, Douglas did not want to be drafted. Despite pursuing his college degree, he was reclassified as 1-A (eligible for military service). This did not stop him from contributing to the Vietnam War effort. Instead of going the traditional route of waiting to get drafted, Douglas pursued his own niche – languages and linguistics.

While researching extensively to find a language school to learn Japanese, he found if he enlisted, the Army would offer him the opportunity to attend a language school. The only catch was he didn’t get to choose his language, and as such, was sent to Vietnamese Language School for 47 weeks instead. Due to his voluntary enlistment and language training, he was deployed to Vietnam where he served as a translator. Douglas continued to serve as a translator once he returned to CONUS (Continental United States) from deployment.

Douglas knew he wanted to pursue language learning before enlisting in the Army, however, whilst in the Army the true extent of his passion became clear. After being discharged from his first enlistment, he attended college to get a degree in Linguistics with a minor in Anthropology, simultaneously participating in the ROTC program. This allowed him to dedicate his time and expertise to the Army once again, and he served in the Army Air Defense and Intelligence units.

After a second discharge from the Army, Douglas went on to work for the United States Postal Service; another highly essential role in our country. Despite enduring multiple personal hardships during his time with USPS, he proved his resilience by completing an MBA through evening classes.

Once Douglas retired from the Postal Service, and with his wife’s encouragement, he decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and attend law school. At 62 years old he began law school – a testament to his dedication to learning and his continuous commitment to contributing to society.

Impressively, Douglas passed the Bar exams in both California and Arizona. His decision to volunteer with VLI was spurred by a talk he attended. Knowing homeless, disabled and low-income veterans desperately needed free legal aid, Douglas eventually began volunteering 5 days a week. Valuing his hard work and dedication, VLI offered Douglas a stipend and the flexibility to work remotely.

Scot and Marion Douglas provide year-round, critical volunteer emergency response support with the Yavapai County Jeep Posse to protect fellow Arizonans
Scot and Marion Douglas provide year-round, critical volunteer emergency
response support with the Yavapai County Jeep Posse to protect fellow
Arizonans.

His work at VLI began with meeting exponential requests for assistance in veterans benefits, discharge upgrades, immigration, consumer issues, landlord-tenant matters and estate planning. Now, with the mentorship of VLI Board Member and pro bono attorney Sheila-Marie Finkelstein, Douglas specializes in estate planning, recognizing the importance of assisting his fellow veterans with this important legal area they would not normally consider.

Estate planning requires an unrelenting dedication as clients can face immediate concerns. In one pressing case, Douglas completed an estate plan for a veteran just weeks before he passed on, so his house would go to his son. In another, he fulfilled an immediate request for a Durable Power of Attorney, where he interviewed the client, drafted up the necessary documents, and sent them to the veteran the next day.

Douglas is an inspiring and compassionate individual who has shown unerring resilience and perseverance through his years of service to our nation. He is truly an exemplary individual, one we all can look up to, and VLI is extremely fortunate to have him in its ranks.

Join VLI and help provide free legal services to our veterans and military families. Together, we can greatly reduce veteran homelessness and suicide. To date, VLI has served more than 8,000 veterans and restored over two million dollars in veterans benefits.

To learn more please visit VetsLegal.org

Wells Fargo Launches Military Spouse Hiring Program, Designed to Onboard 100 New Employees Per Year for the Next Five Years

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By Yahoo! Finance

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) recently announced its Military Spouse Homefront Heroes Hiring program, offering mid- to high-level remote, hybrid, and in-office career opportunities with a focus on portability for spouses of those actively serving. The new program is designed to onboard 100 new employees each year for the next five years.

Wells Fargo’s Military Spouse Homefront Heroes Hiring (HHH) program is now accepting interested candidates into its talent community in preparation for launching 100 open positions in early June 2022. The HHH program team will help prepare candidates and hiring managers for a virtual hiring event, assisting with resume development and interview training to help applicants articulate transferrable skills and potential employment gaps. The virtual hiring event will occur in August 2022, with a program start date of Sept. 12, 2022.

The announcement came in advance of Military Spouse Appreciation Day on Friday, May 6.

“The 24% unemployment rate for military spouses far exceeds the national average; this is largely a result of permanent change of station and the inability to have a portable career,” said Sean Passmore, head of Military Talent Strategic Sourcing and Enterprise Military & Veteran Initiatives at Wells Fargo. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to military spouse un- or underemployment. The scale and complexity of HHH demonstrate our understanding of the unique career challenges faced by military spouses, and our commitment to helping solve the problem.”

Positions will be available in Human Resources, Consumer & Small Business Banking, Technology, Wealth & Investment Management, and Consumer Lending. Each line of business will host 20 roles, and new hires will begin the inaugural program on Sept. 12, 2022.

HHH is just one of several programs Wells Fargo has implemented to serve and employ the military community. Others include:

The Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Program: A nationwide, competitively paid 8+ week Spring and Fall internship for experienced talent that converts directly to a full-time role based on performance. Interns develop an understanding of the daily responsibilities of a full-time Wells Fargo employee, while networking and participating in special training opportunities.

Military Apprenticeships: A Department of Labor structured experiential training program that results in skills certification for applicants who do not initially meet qualifications for the non-apprentice equivalent role.

Boots to Banking: A Wells Fargo one-of-a-kind program designed to attract, prepare, and hire military talent into various career opportunities through military-specific hiring events. Pre- and post-event components include candidate and hiring manager preparation along with valuable resources for a successful transition.

Corporate Fellowship Program: In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Initiative, the program hosts military personnel within six months of separation for a 12-week fellowship experience to achieve full-time employment.

Applicants interested in joining the HHH talent community should visit the Military Spouse Homefront Heroes Hiring Program website.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Naval Base San Diego Hybrid Career Fair!

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The Naval Base San Diego Hybrid Career Fair is coming to San Diego’s Scottish Rite Event Center, May 12, 2022.

FREE ADMISSION: Open to ALL branches of service active duty, reservists, veterans, family members and DoD employees.

May 12, 2022 @ 11:00 am – 1:00pm

We love helping our veterans to find employment opportunities after transitioning from the military, as well as their spouses.

You are invited to attend our upcoming career fair, attendance is free!

This is your chance to meet directly with hiring managers looking to HIRE Vets!

REQUIRED:

1. MUST Have Base Access

2. MUST WEAR MASK and Temperature Check before the event. Safety measures will be forced.

Event highlights

• Opportunity to meet face-to-face with local and national employers

• Onsite Interviews

• Network with key community resource providers

• Learn about military family benefits and more!

• Dress for success & bring plenty of resumes!

Title Sponsor: Honeywellhttps://careers.honeywell.com/us/en

Register Now And Also Get The Hybrid Details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/naval-base-san-diego-hybrid-career-fair-sponsored-by-honeywell-tickets-180341154247

Check Out Our Job Board For Your Military Transition

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Search for employment opportunities and connect with companies that are looking to hire veterans!

Before you start, some things to keep in mind:

Build Your Resume

The goal of a resume is to effectively summarize and highlight your qualifications in a way that will make the employer want to reach out and schedule an interview with you. These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. The VMET document helps you prepare resumes and job applications quickly when you separate from service. Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and VA.gov.

Find the Right Civilian Career

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.

And besides our job board, take advantage of the many job fairs, of which many are virtual:

Hiring Our Heroes career events for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.

DAV Job Fairs

American Legion Job Fairs

Recruit Military Job Fairs

  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of American, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations. Also, see the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a list of organizations committed to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Get started with your job search today!

Paws of War Placing Emergency Feeding Stations for Ukraine Abandoned Pets

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woman bent down feeding several dogs

When Russia began to invade the Ukraine in February 2022, nobody knew how long the turmoil would last or how much destruction would be caused. Everywhere you look there are animals, once someone’s pet, roaming the streets desperate to find any morsel of food. Paws of War was one of the first organizations on the ground in Ukraine providing food and supplies to the people and their pets who stayed behind.

Paws of War are in Ukraine helping by setting up 100’s of feeding stations they quickly made, and they struggle to keep them stocked with food and water as so many animals are using them to survive. They are providing food and other supplies to animals and people around the country. While Paws of War specializes in helping animals, they have also been assisting people in Ukraine because it’s so desperately needed.

The group is still figuring out how much food and water feeding stations they need, how often they will need to be refilled, and how far apart to place them. For volunteers traveling over borders to help the animals, the trips can take six hours.

“It’s so important that we are in Ukraine talking to the people there, giving them the help they need to help themselves and the poor suffering animals left behind,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “Some families have 20 dogs and 40 cats taken into their homes because they can’t bear to see them starving and suffering. It’s very sad. Most of these people are humble, with modest living conditions, but they are very pet friendly. They have opened their hearts and their homes to try and stop the suffering.”

While 4.7 million citizens have fled Ukraine, some have stayed behind and are doing what they can to help the animals that have been left. They are regular citizens who have essentially turned their home into an animal shelter. Daria, for example, had one cat before the invasion but now has at least 50 that she is trying to feed daily.

“Until Paws of War was able to bring me food, I would scavenge around empty houses and garbage looking for scraps of food, anything I could find,” says Daria. “Now I can give these poor cats a chance to survive, and God willing, I can get them to a safe home one day.”

The need for help is everywhere. Every street you look down has a pack of dogs foraging for food. Cristina Tutunaru is one of 20 to 30 Paws of War volunteers who have been working with Ukrainian and other rescue groups.

Paws of War relies on volunteers at the borders of Ukraine in Romania and Poland to purchase and deliver supplies, assist refugees’ animals and meet with heartbroken Ukrainians surrendering their beloved pets before they continue their uncertain journeys.

“We had a girl walk in with a goldfish bowl. People there are close to their animals. They were traveling for two days,” said Misseri.

Paws of War is seeking donations to help support its Ukraine mission of helping pets and people. To donate, visit the site:pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/156471-help-save-the-refugees-pets-of-ukraine. To see a video of Paws of War in action in Ukraine, visit: youtube.com/watch?v=-vuU0BssMws.

Paws of War has been operating around the world since 2014 helping military save the animals they rescue while deployed overseas. They have helped veterans with numerous issues, including suicide, service and support dogs, companion cats and dogs, food insecurity, veterinary care, and animal rescue for deployed military. As the demand for Paws of War’s services grew, traditional fundraisers like galas and golf outings were sidelined, putting a crimp in the needed funding to keep these services going. Paws of War has a large loyal following of supporters and looks forward to working with new corporate sponsors to keep these life-saving programs running.

About Paws of War
Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs in being service dogs, and provides companion animals to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or donate, visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

How to recruit and retain veteran employees

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black female soldier working on a laptop

Military veterans make outstanding employees who hold skills and assets that transfer over to any workspace. The question is, how can you not only attract veteran employees to your business but encourage them to stay in their position.

Consider these four simple yet effective steps:

Use Military Networks

Sometimes, posting a generic job post to a popular job search website isn’t enough to attract the veteran candidates that would be right for your company.

Utilize veteran networks, career fairs, and spaces to attract and educate yourself on how to best employ veteran candidates.

Employers can utilize an abundance of resources and organizations to help them get started on their journey.
 

Some helpful organizations include:

  • The American Legion
  • American Job Center
  • National Labor Exchange
  • Rallypoint.com
  • Indeed.com (special paid features)
  • Hiring our Heroes

Many of these organizations additionally include information on attending veteran career fairs where you can speak to potential employees in person and discover what their assets, needs, and skillsets are. The more veteran connections you make, the more likely you will find candidates or references that you can utilize in your workspace.

Meet their Standards

Veterans are extremely loyal to an organization. What is good for your veteran population is also good for any employee. However, if the environment does not meet veterans’ needs, they tend to leave an organization quicker than their non-veteran counterparts. Veterans are often interested in:

  • A challenging/engaging opportunity.
  • Clearly stated expectations of the position.
  • A known pathway for advancement in the current position and organization.
  • A mentor (preferably a veteran) on arrival and an onboarding program to ease integration and adjustment to the organization’s culture.
  • Clear and open verbal and written communication — veterans are accustomed to in-person communication from leadership.
  • Career professional development.
  • Impact on the organization — veterans want to know what they are doing has “meaning.”
  • Compensation and benefits.

Transitioning from the field to the workplace can be difficult for any military veteran. Remember to be patient, considerate, and empathetic to the needs and experiences of your veteran employees.

Know the Lingo

Many veterans have the experience you are looking for in an employee; however, it may translate differently when their specific skill set is written on paper. For example, if you are looking for a Marketing Manager, you’re not likely to find a military veteran who holds that exact title on their resume. However, titles such as an Enlisted Accessions Recruiter, Psychological Operations Specialist or Recruiter are all positions that a veteran could have held and learned the same experience. Utilizing the translators found on websites such as careerstop.org can help you find the military job titles that match your civilian job needs.

Provide Specialty Resources

Providing a space where veterans can have extra support in their transition is one of the most valuable things you can do not only to attract but keep your veteran employees. Providing on-site training, creating veteran affinities and ERGs, establishing veteran mentorship programs, and ensuring that your leadership team is educated to the needs of your veteran employees are all added resources that will ease the anxieties of military transition. The more comfortable and supported you can make veteran employees feel, the stronger your employees and team can become.

Every veteran will have different experiences and difficulties in the workplace, but ensuring that you provide a safe, supportive environment is one of the best things you can do to attract and retain veterans.

Source: Department of Labor, Berkshire Associate, CareerOneSt

What Makes a Résumé Great? Science, and a Résumé Expert, Has the Answer

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Human resource manager looking at many different cv resume and choosing perfect person to hire. HR concept on virtual screen.

By Jeff Haden

As the old saying goes, you can’t win a race in the first lap, but you can definitely lose one. The same is true with résumés: Even the greatest résumé won’t, on its own, cause you to hire someone — but a relatively poor résumé will almost always get tossed into the “no” pile.

Fair or unfair, that’s the reality.

And also, the problem, because whom you decide (and, just as important, don’t decide) to interview helps determine whom you hire — and as a result, determines the skills, talent, and expertise of the people around you.

So, if it all starts with a résumé, how do you define a “good” résumé? Or better yet, a “great” résumé?

Science can partly answer the question. In 2016, researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study “systematically examining the impression management (IM) content of actual résumés and cover letters and empirically testing the effect on applicant evaluation.”

Or, in non-researcher-speak, tried to figure out what does and doesn’t work when it comes to crafting a résumé that lands a job interview.

In general terms, a little self-promotion (think a few superlatives like “excellent” and “outstanding”) is good; a lot is not. So is a little ingratiation (think “I would love to be a part of such an awesome team” or “I would love to contribute to such a worthwhile mission”); a lot is not. As with most things, moderation is key.

Helpful, but only to a point. While what a candidate has done is interesting, what you care about most is what the person you hire can do.

And to determine that, you also need a story.

According to Brian Brandt, a certified professional résumé writer who specializes in crafting résumés for people seeking finance, technology, logistics, biotech, and pharmaceutical positions, “A résumé should be built from the candidate’s journey but pointed to his or her future. A résumé that scrolls the past is a document that elicits the wrong kinds of questions.” (More on that in a moment.) “The best résumés show the capacity to go where the candidate wants to go.”

Which, if you craft your job postings properly, will align with what you need the employee you hire to accomplish.

According to the University of Michigan research, what you ask for in a job posting is largely what you will get. Use lots of superlatives in your job postings, and most candidates will respond with lots of superlatives. Talk a lot about mission and purpose and culture, and you’ll get plenty of ingratiation.

The better approach? Imagine you’re looking for a person who has accomplished specific things; a great résumé — and great candidate — describes what the candidate has done and tells a story that indicates their development and growth supports what you need them to actually do.

“The best résumés are never just reflections of accomplishments and achievements,” Brian says. “They’re well-curated documents that move the conversation to second- and third- interview turf.”

And that’s where the “questions” issue comes into play. Some résumés spark the wrong kinds of questions: “Does the candidate possess the right attributes?” “Does the candidate have the right experience?” “Does the candidate possess the work ethic, interpersonal skills, and cultural fit?” Those questions indicate doubt.

The right questions? “That’s amazing; how did she do that?” “That was an interesting career move; I wonder why he shifted to a different functional role?” “Most operations managers didn’t spend their college summers working on archaeology digs; I wonder how that all ties together?”

According to Brian, those are the kinds of stories a great résumé tells.

Because they answer the questions you most need answered — and will want to ask more about during job interviews. Whether the candidate’s actual accomplishments show they are capable of achieving what you need them to achieve. Whether the candidate displays values similar to those your organization embraces.

Whether the candidate displays the tangible and less tangible skills, attributes, and qualities you need most.

A great résumé provides the initial answers; job interviews provide the deeper, more substantive answers.

So, what should you look for in a résumé? According to Brian, a great résumé tells a story that doesn’t make you ask whether the candidate might be able do the job.

A great résumé leaves you wanting to know not whether, but just how well, the candidate will do the job.

If you don’t find yourself wondering that…then it’s not a great résumé.

The Benefits of Hiring Veterans

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Numerous positive outcomes result from military service. As an employer, you can benefit from the training and experience a veteran brings to the workforce.

Military personnel and veterans have been vetted by their training. All members of the military complete basic training, which is designed to “break an individual down” and then train them back up. Basic training varies by branch but includes intense physical training, academic and skills training, and socialization into that branch’s culture. When you hire a veteran or member of the military, the training you supply is built on top of a foundation that has already been set in the military. Military service instills strong values, selfless service, and loyalty — desirable attributes in an employee.

Military service results in the acquisition of numerous skills, training, and experiences that would benefit any company or agency.

Veterans in the General Workplace:

No matter the position, veterans are equipped with an array of strengths that translate into any job space, including:

  • Working well in a team. Teamwork is considered an essential part of daily life and is the foundation on which safe military operations are built.
  • Having a sense of duty. Responsibility for job performance and accountability for completing missions are something to take pride in.
  • Experiencing self-confidence. Holding a realistic estimation of self and ability based on experiences is expected of each service member.
  • Being organized and disciplined.
  • Possessing a strong work ethic. In the military, the mission always comes first.
  • Having the ability to follow through on assignments, even under difficult or stressful circumstances.
  • Possessing a variety of cross-functional skills, such as extensive training on computer programs and systems, interacting with various people with different skills to accomplish a task, and coordinating and troubleshooting problems in novel and known conditions.
  • Being able to problem solve quickly and creatively.
  • The ability to adapt to changing situations.
  • Naturally following rules and schedules.

Veterans Make Strong Leaders

Military service teaches and cultivates leadership skills that translate smoothly into the roles of supervisor, manager, and other “high up” positions. These skills include:

  • Taking responsibility for self and actions
  • Making sound and timely decisions
  • Setting the example
  • Understanding and accomplishing assigned tasks
  • Being dependable
  • Cultivating abilities to meet a variety of challenges
  • Being disciplined

Veterans are Educated

After completing their service, veterans have easier access to educational and training resources. This means that in tandem with their hands-on experience in the military, they are typically more educated in their craft. These skillsets often manifest as:

  • Technical and tactical proficiency in a variety of skills
  • Technical education for a specific military occupational specialty

Veterans are Mature

Military service can result in personal growth and positive emotional experiences that foster a sense of respect and maturity that might not be seen otherwise. Veterans often exhibit:

  • Enhanced maturity
  • Self-improvement
  • Knowing oneself better (e.g., strengths, capabilities, areas for improvement)
  • Strengthening of resilience
  • Positive transformations following trauma or situations of extreme stress
  • Improved coping skills
  • Pride (e.g., in self, unit)

Veterans Understand the Importance of a Team

Veterans are taught the importance of interpersonal skills and relationships in professional and personal settings. They are often more knowledgeable about working productively on a team with different opinions, personalities, and behaviors than those without military experience. Veterans are especially good at:

  • Creating camaraderie and deep friendships
  • Interpersonal maturation
  • Working well in teams and understanding the importance of cooperation
  • Looking out for the welfare of the team

Hiring a veteran will not only allow you to gain employees who are dedicated, lead naturally, develop an array of job skills, but are some of the greatest assets your company can have to better your company.

Source: VA.gov

5 of the Best Traits for Improved Leadership

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If you were to ask one hundred different people what the best leadership qualities were, you are more than likely to get an abundance of different answers.

While some people think leadership thrives off of authority and determination; others might look to compassion and humility as more admirable traits. But when you’re getting ready to put yourself into the mindset of being an effective leader, you have to remember what it was like to be the employee. What was always the most helpful to you when you needed your boss, coach or mentor? What did you wish they would have done in your time of need?

Here are some traits you should always be building upon to be the best leader you can be:

Confidence

In any setting where you are working towards a goal, people want to know that their leaders are confident in their decisions and know what is best for the group. Whether it be large scale projects or implementing smaller strategies to gauge success, have confidence in every decision you make and ensure your decisions are worthy of that confidence. If you don’t think an idea will work or that you have the ability to lead your team, your employees will be even less inclined to believe in the idea. You set the tone for the ins and outs of the company’s responsibilities, so make sure you are confident in your abilities and in your team.

Adaptability

Sometimes plans don’t go in the way you hoped due to unforeseen or unpredictable circumstances. This is just a part of life whether in the field or in your personal life. Instead of acting out of fear or impulse, take a breath, open your mind and decide how you’ll take the next steps. The workplace is always changing, stay on top of the trends to make sure you’re prepared when things don’t go quite your way. Your team is looking to you for guidance in times like these and being calm and thinking fast is of the upmost importance.

Personable

Being personable doesn’t mean being your employee’s best friend, but it does mean being approachable and understanding. It can be easy to get in a power-backed mindset where you forget what it’s like to be an employee yourself. Remember that you are not just your team’s boss, but their fellow co-worker, and you should create a professional, yet personable relationship to foster trust. What does their job entail? How can you help their efficiency? What do your employees enjoy doing once they clock out? When employees are able to trust their boss, they will feel comfortable providing feedback, being honest in all aspects and informing you of accidental errors in the workplace.

Open-Minded

Culture is defined by its ever-changing nature, which means the way that “things used to be done” will be likely to change. This doesn’t mean that one way is necessarily better than the other, it’s just a different approach than what you might be used to. Keep an open-mind to change and consider other viewpoints as being alternatives to the norm rather than challenges, and even if an idea appears to be blatantly incorrect or difficult to understand, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Why do they want to go with this specific ideal? Why are they passionate about this belief? What is their point of view?

Communication

This may sound cliché, but communication is critical to the workplace in all aspects and can always be improved upon. For leaders specifically, it’s important to relay what your expectations and goals in a way that is clearly understood. Miscommunication is bound to happen at least once, but use the mistake as an opportunity to improve upon how this mistake can be avoided in the future. In the same way relaying your needs is important, it’s also important to listen attentively when your employees come to you for updates on projects or to communicate their own needs or concerns. The ability to give and receive information will decrease opportunities for misunderstandings, simple mistakes and frustration on both sides.

Becoming an effective, respected leader in the workplace can seem daunting or even overwhelming, but you are never alone and can always learn from your mistakes. No one becomes great at something overnight, so remember to stay respectful to others and the rest will fall into place.

Armed with a Legal Degree, a Veteran Continues His Mission

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By Antoinette Balta, Esq., LLM

Andrew Alton enlisted in the United States Marine Corps upon graduating from high school. He served on an intelligence collections team after studying Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. During his time in the Marine Corps, Alton deployed twice: first, in support of humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, and then to a combat deployment in the Sangin region of Afghanistan. Following an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps as a Sergeant in 2012, Alton returned to Southern California to continue his studies. Alton received his B.S. in Biology from Cal State Fullerton and then his Juris Doctor from the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

While in law school, Alton longed to continue his mission of service and sought out ways to give back. Alton’s search ultimately led to Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI), a nonprofit law firm that provides free and life-changing services to low-income and homeless veterans.

Alton interned at VLI throughout his law school career and was exposed to several different areas of law including housing, complex veteran benefits appeals and discharge upgrades for survivors of military sexual trauma and other disenfranchised Veterans.

Armed with a law school degree and significant legal training, Alton was offered a variety of employment options. Alton applied to his alma mater, and was awarded a post-graduate fellowship that would allow him to work for one year at VLI. Alton’s fellowship at VLI helped numerous veterans in need of legal services in Southern California. Indeed, Alton helped over 100 veterans and their families remove barriers to housing, healthcare, education and employment.

Upon completing his fellowship, Alton was so intertwined with the veteran community and provided so much value to VLI that he was offered a full-time attorney position. Alton enjoys the different challenges and legal obstacles that he encounters daily. Here is a small sampling of the type of cases that Alton resolves in a typical month. While cases vary in terms of size and scope, Alton treats each case with the same passion and urgency, recognizing that any veteran in crisis deserves a zealous advocate.

A veteran’s landlord served a legal 60-day eviction notice to an 81-year-old Air Force veteran during COVID, who had been a tenant for 12 years. Although VLI determined that the eviction notice was lawful, this veteran desperately needed more time to find new housing and relocate his belongings — the isolation and lack of resources during the pandemic was going to render the veteran homeless. Alton was able to negotiate with the landlord to obtain an extra six weeks for the veteran to locate new housing and, most importantly, celebrate the holidays in his old home.

As a direct result of Alton’s advocacy, this veteran can alleviate his fears of homelessness, and have the time necessary to locate a new home.

In a separate case, an elderly Army veteran lived for months in deplorable conditions. The landlord did nothing to fix the conditions, despite evidence of a severe roach infestation. Worse yet, the landlord ignored the veteran’s repeated requests for extermination services. Recognizing the unsafe living conditions, Alton negotiated with the landlord for the veteran to move into a new, upgraded apartment, free from infestation, along with two months of waived rent. This resulted in a $3,740 surplus for the veteran who lives on a fixed income.

Recognizing that many veterans who fought to defend American justice cannot afford to access it, Alton committed himself to serving the greater good, and advocate for those who need a hand up. Each day presents a new opportunity for Alton to brainstorm with his team of over 15 colleagues at VLI to determine how to best uplift the veteran community.

Relying on Military Experience During Times of Uncertainty

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By Chris Wayne, Verizon Small Business Essentials

I spent nearly four years in the military as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. During that time, I learned a lot about perseverance, discipline, and determination from the military standards for working as a team.

Little did I realize how much those skills and experiences would shape my leadership during a global pandemic.

In the military, we prepare for a variety of scenarios and rely on our team to play their individual roles to achieve a greater goal. The belief in this process is how we navigate and survive the challenges we encounter. When you have clear expectations of yourself and those around you, it’s easy to follow through, execute a plan, and be accountable.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in early 2020, my organization, like many, was unsure of what the future held. But what we did know is we owed it to our customers and our employees to ensure there was minimal disruption to their daily lives, especially as we all hunkered down at home and learned to work in new ways.

Nearly two years later, many companies, large and small, are still grappling with the disruptions of COVID-19. Thus making it imperative to maintain a sense of stability and ensure our teams have the resources they need to work effectively against a set of challenges that constantly evolve.

Here are four ways my time in the military taught me how to lead during times of uncertainty, and it’s my hope that sharing these experiences can help you lead when you are met with adversity.

Create a culture of open communication
Leaders can face an uphill battle when it comes to managing unforeseen or unprecedented issues. Being in charge — whether leading a large team, company or battalion — requires that those who report to you buy into the fact that you are the one who makes the final decision. But just like any endeavor, those in charge can lose control of their team if they don’t earn their respect and trust.

Maintaining that respect starts with open and frequent communication, especially in times of uncertainty. Fostering an environment where your team feels connected and comfortable to express concerns will create trust and ultimately lead to respect. Earning respect can also mean remaining consistent in your work, setting clear expectations with your team, and making sure everyone understands the impact and importance of their role.

Know when to lead and when to bring others in
The mark of a strong leader is someone who understands when there are smarter people in the room. There will be instances where it’s the right decision to lean on others who might have more expertise or more insight into the issue you are facing. True leadership can look different in various scenarios, especially when your team is navigating uncharted territory. Knowing when to step back and allow your team members to lead won’t lessen your leadership; in fact, it might do the opposite.

Failure is a catalyst for growth
Failure is an inevitable part of life. In the military, we know failure can mean the difference between life and death. But that doesn’t mean you should completely dismiss failure when the stakes are not as high.

For our customers, the stakes are always high, just in a different way. They are small business owners and entrepreneurs who put their livelihood on the line to realize their dreams. We recognize and respect that they face challenges every day, and our job is to help them solve those challenges. At Verizon Small Business Essentials, we learn from our failures to help refine our strategies. Making data-driven decisions to help our customers compete and succeed, as well as creating an environment for our employees to learn and innovate in their roles, is key to our success.

Build a network of trusted peers
Leading can be lonely. While you might have a team that looks up to you for guidance, the buck stops with you, meaning success or failure falls squarely upon your shoulders. When you go home at the end of the day, it can be difficult to shake the feeling that you have nowhere to turn to vent.

This is when your network becomes vital. Chances are good your network contains people you trust, who may also have served in the military. Our common experiences can be helpful when seeking advice or a sounding board to work through a variety of challenging scenarios. If you can find the right people to bring into your trusted circle, it will make all the difference when uncertainty arises.

I credit my military service for my ascension in the civilian ranks to becoming a leader with one of the largest companies in the country. Everything I picked up along the way has led me here, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience.

Leadership is defined as the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by conviction, and ignited by purpose. As veterans, our paths to leadership opportunities are diverse. And I firmly believe we are uniquely suited to lead because of our history of military service and sacrifice.

Chris Wayne is the managing director for Verizon Small Business Essentials. Prior to this, he was the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Chris holds a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree from the University of Southern California and is a certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP). Before joining Yahoo Small Business, Chris was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

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