Military veteran graduates from college alongside his daughter

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dad and daughter graduating

NORFOLK, Va. – A father and daughter from Portsmouth, Virginia, are now bonded by their college graduations from the same school and on the same day.

Marvin Fletcher, a retired U.S. Marine and Army veteran, told Fox News Digital that he was shocked when he found out that both he and his daughter SaNayah Hill, 17, would be graduating from Tidewater Community College at the same time.

In a phone interview, Fletcher said he felt overwhelming pride when he learned that his daughter had completed her career studies certificate in emergency medical service as a dual-enrollment student — before even finishing her junior year at Deep Creek High School.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity that TCC afforded myself, as well as other veterans, and my daughter,” Fletcher said.

He earned his associate’s degree in applied science in management after serving for four years in the Marine Corps and eight years in the Army.

Fletcher added, “I’m humbled and honored to have served. And I like the fact that my daughter wants to serve in the medical field in her own way.”

The father-daughter pair completed their graduation march on Monday, May 9, at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

Click here to read the full article on FOX.

The Power of Adaptive Sports

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U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston in wheelchair smiling with amputed leg and other leg in a cast

By Kellie Speed

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston never could have imagined he would lose his left leg here in the States after returning home from being deployed. While the accident certainly changed his life, his impressive outlook has him proving nothing is impossible.

“After I got back from deployment, we were moving into a new house when I was loading a mattress onto the truck and it fell off,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine in a recent phone interview. “Just as I was picking it back up, someone hit me. When I was hit, I thought the vehicle hit my funny bone which was why my leg was numb.

When they got me into the back of the ambulance, they gave me some meds for the pain. I was upset and hangry at the time because I had just ordered Domino’s. When I heard someone say, ‘left leg amputation,’ that’s when it hit me.”

Despite his injury, the U.S. Virgin Islands native has not only found many reasons to be grateful, but also push himself to incredible limits.

“As a Marine, we go from being active and physical specimens and being the best at everything to being reduced to having a caretaker,” Hairston said. “I had to fight to get back to my old self. When I was injured, I had another reason to be glad I joined the Marine Corps. I had a phone call with my Colonel at the time and I was sent to Walter Reed. They have the best adaptive program in the Department of Defense. When I was there, I told them I wanted to go to the Paralympics.”

Now holding the title of the first para-cyclist in Virgin Islands history and being the only hand cyclist in the Marine Corps to win at the 2022 Warrior Games was “the greatest feeling in my entire Marine Corps career,” he said. “Hearing guys in other branches saying ‘there’s a guy killing it in cycling’ or ‘watch out for that Marine’ was incredible. When I was injured, my physical and occupational therapists told me that even though I lost a leg, they kept reinforcing that I can still do what I did before; I just needed to figure out how to do it now. I was able to prove to myself that I can still be active and take a walk with my wife (a Marine helicopter pilot) or play with my dogs and being able to compete really helped me with my recovery.”

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Andrew Hairston para-cycling in formation with others

Hairston first competed in a four-mile race in Central Park. “It was the first time that I felt like myself,” he said. “As a Marine, we have to win everything, but I came in third place. That gave me the Paralympics bug. I have done a few marathons now in hand cycling and am getting ready to do three more.”

With two gold medals for cycling, a silver medal in archery and silver and bronze awards for track to his credit, Hairston’s continued determination to succeed has reinforced he is still the same specimen he was when he joined the military — just a little bit different now.

Hairston created a nonprofit called Salvage Life with the goal of inspiring others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle with a focus on veteran and disabled communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Knowing that people back home are disabled and not able to get the same support that I had here in the states was the reason I started the nonprofit,” he said. “As I continue in my recovery, I was able to host the first adaptive sports clinic in the Virgin Islands just before Warrior Games. I showed guys how to shoot archery and wanted to show people that you can make things work for someone with a disability. After my injury, I said if I can help just one person, it would be a success. I got to help eight people; that’s the best part of it.”

National Scholarship Providers Association Introduces the NSPA Exchange During National Scholarship Month

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graduate students in caps and gowns smiling

National Scholarship Month, sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), is a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the vital role scholarships play in reducing student loan debt and expanding access to higher education.

To celebrate, the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) has announced the launch of the NSPA Exchangethe first and only scholarship metric database.

Thanks to a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the NSPA Exchange was created to serve as a central access point for scholarship provider data. Currently, the database is home to metrics from over 1,300 organizations, allowing members to search details about peer providers by location, compare scholarship award amounts, eligibility criteria, program staff size, and more. All information is kept in a secure, cloud-based, centralized database maintained through a custom administration system.

“Our goal for the NSPA Exchange is to ultimately define best practices and industry standards for scholarship providers.” says Nicolette del Muro, Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at NSPA.

“With this database, members now have the data they need to make strategic decisions. For example, of the over 15,000 scholarships in the Exchange database, the average application is open for 90 days. And 75% of these scholarships open in the months of November, December, and January. This offers applicants a relatively short window of time to apply for all scholarships. Insight like this could help a provider determine to open their application outside of the busy season or encourage them to make their scholarship criteria and requirements available online in advance of the application open date.”

“The NSPA Exchange is a great resource for IOScholarships as the information is constantly updated and enables members to review and update their own organization’s scholarship data”, said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships and Individual Affiliate Member at NSPA. “IOScholarships also uses scholarships from the Exchange in our own Scholarship Search, and we trust these scholarships are safe for students, vetted, and current offerings.

To learn more about this exciting new NSPA initiative click here –  Launching a New Member Service: The NSPA Exchange or visit www.scholarshipproviders.org. For more details on how to sponsor the NSPA Exchange, contact Nicolette del Muro Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at ndelmuro@scholarshipproviders.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (NSPA)

The mission of the National Scholarship Providers Association is to advance the collective impact of scholarship providers and the scholarships they award. Currently serving over 2,000 individuals, they are dedicated to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profit, foundations and businesses. Membership in the NSPA provides access to networking opportunities, professional development, and scholarship program resources.

ABOUT IOSCHOLARSHIPS

By conducting a free scholarship search at IOScholarships.com, STEM minority and underrepresented students gain access to a database of thousands of STEM scholarships worth over $48 million. We then narrow this vast array of financial aid opportunities down to a manageable list of scholarships for which students actually qualify, based on the information they provide in their IOScholarships.com profile. They can then review their search results, mark their favorites, and sort their list by deadline, dollar amount and other criteria. We also offer a scholarship organizer which is completely free to use, just like our scholarship search. There are scholarships out there for diverse students in STEM. So take advantage of National Scholarship Month and search for available scholarships today!

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com

Famous Veterans Throughout History

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Elvis Presley holding company battalion sign

Celeb Elvis Presley was far from the only person of fame to have served in the U.S. military. In fact, several people who are known for their accomplishments in other fields got their start in the armed forces. Meet some of the other well-known veterans throughout history that you may not be aware of:

 

 

 

 

The Apollo 11 Team

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins comprised the historic Apollo 11 Team that successfully landed and walked on the moon in 1969. While they will always be remembered as the first men to go to the moon, all three of them served in the military. Armstrong served as a Navy pilot and saw action in the Korean War, Aldrin was among the top of his class at West Point before serving in Korea with the Air Force and Collins was a member of some of the most prestigious flight programs as a fighter pilot for the Air Force. All three men used their experiences from the military to eventually become astronauts with NASA, leading to the first-ever moon mission that marked their names in history.

Johnny Cash

At the ripe age of 18, before his musical career took off, Johnny Cash was a staff sergeant for the U.S. Air Force. Serving from 1950-1954, Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U.S. Air Force Security Service at Landsberg, West Germany where he worked as a morse code operator intercepting Soviet Army transmissions. In fact, Cash was officially the first American to know about Stalin’s death when he decoded a message while monitoring Soviet Morse Code chatter in 1953. Cash was then tasked to tell the critical information to his superiors. Cash began his musical journey during his time in the military, having formed his first band during service: The Landsberg Barbarians. After his service and into his thriving musical legacy, Cash continued to show his appreciation for his roots by participating in concerts and events designed to support our nation’s troops.

Bea Arthur and Betty White

Long before they were your favorite Golden Girls, Bea Arthur and Betty White served in the U.S. military. At just 20 years old, Bea Arthur enlisted with the Marine Corps’ Women’s Reservists, becoming one of the first people to do so. She served as a typist at Marine Headquarters 

in Washington, D.C. and later transferred to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to become a driver and dispatcher. Arthur was honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1945 with the title of staff sergeant. White served with the American Women’s Voluntary Services; an organization dedicated to providing support to the war effort. She also worked as a PX truck driver delivering military supplies to the barracks in the Hollywood Hills and regularly attended farewell dances for departing troops hosted to boost troop morale.

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris

One of the most beloved figures in the veteran community, Chuck Norris wouldn’t be who he is today if it wasn’t for his service in the Air Force. In 1958, after graduating high school, Norris became an Air Policeman and was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea. It was there that Norris began studying martial arts and earned his first black belt in Tang Soo Do. Once Norris was discharged from service in 1962, he went on to participate in martial arts competitions, became the World Middleweight Karate Champion from 1968 to 1974 and launched his  acting career. Though it’s been 60 years since Norris was discharged from the Air Force, he still dedicates his projects, time and money to veterans’ efforts. He has worked with organizations such as the USO and the Veterans Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans  and was the spokesperson for the U.S. Veterans Administration. He received the Veteran of the Year award from the Air Force in 2001 and was even made an honorary Marine in 2007.

Harriet Tubman

Everyone knows Harriet Tubman and her brilliant work with the Underground Railroad, but  many people often forget her military history. After escaping slavery and rescuing over 70 other  slaves working for the Underground Railroad, Tubman worked with Colonel James Montgomery  and the Union Army as a nurse and spy. Her work consisted of tending to the wounds of soldiers  and escaped slaves, but mostly entailed gaining intel on the Confederate soldiers for the Union  Army. Tubman created a spy ring in South Carolina, paid informants for intel that would be useful  to the Union Army and was one of the leaders that helped to plan and execute the Combahee  Ferry Raid. The raid successfully caught Confederate soldiers off guard, allowing a group of Black Union Army soldiers to free more than 700 slaves. Her contributions made her the first woman in American history to lead a military assault.

Tammy Duckworth

Before her career as a senator for the state of Illinois, Tammy Duckworth was a combat veteran of the Iraq War. Joining the Army Reserves in 1990 and transferring to the National Guard in 1996, Duckworth served as a helicopter pilot while stationed in Iraq. In 2004, her helicopter was hit by a rocket￾propelled grenade resulting in the loss of both of her legs and limited mobility in her right arm. Despite being the first female double amputee of that particular war, Duckworth obtained a medical waiver that allowed her to continue her service in the National Guard for another 10 years. She retired in 2014 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Duckworth has worked relentlessly to advocate for the needs and wellbeing of the veteran community. With her high ranking position with the Department of Veterans Affairs and her status as  a U.S. senator, Duckworth has created government-sponsored programs to help veterans with PTSD, advocated for the needs of women and Native American veterans, created initiatives to bring an end to veteran homelessness and helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Clint Eastwood

Before Clint Eastwood was an actor, musician, director and your favorite gun-slinging cowboy, he served in the U.S. Army. In fact, without Eastwood’s Army service, he may have never become the iconic figure he is today. Before he got the chance to enroll in college, Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He served as a lifeguard and swim instructor at Fort Ord in California where he met future co-stars Martin Milner and David Janssen. Upon discharge from the Army, Eastwood used his GI Bill benefits to study drama at L.A. City College and soon after landed his contract with Universal Studios. The rest is history.

 

 

James Earl Jones

An iconic actor with a distinctive voice, James Earl Jones is best known for his work throughout Hollywood and as the voice of one of Hollywood’s most notorious sci-fi villains, Darth Vader. But before he ventured into the world of Hollywood, Jones served with the Army during the Korean War. A member of the University of Michigan’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, Jones was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and assigned to Headquarters Company, 38th Regimental Combat Team. Jones served his first and only assignment at the former Camp Hale, where he helped establish a cold weather training command. His battalion became a training unit and Jones was promoted to first lieutenant before being discharged soon after. He went on to begin his acting career straight out of the service at the Ramsdell Theater in Michigan and has since made significant contributions to the world of the arts.

 

How to Write a Winning Civilian Resume

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writing civilian resume

Your civilian resume summarizes your background and experience and it’s likely to be the first information about you that an employer will see.

With your military service, you already have impressive skills and knowledge.

These tips will help you make a resume that will stand out.

 

 

 

 

Collect Your Assets

  •  Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) through the Department of Defense. Your VMET will give an  overview of the skills you’ve  gained in the military.
  • Make a list of your technical skills.
    • Computer technicians, mechanics and engineers How to Write a Winning Civilian Resume have skills that can be easily converted to civilian jobs.Convert your military job training into civilian terms. For example, budgeting is a critical skill in civilian companies.
  • Make a list of your intangible skills. This list should include leadership, discipline and a strong work ethic.

Select Your Resume Style

Your resume should highlight your unique qualifications. There are different ways to organize your resume. Pick a style that highlights your strengths.

  • Chronological resume
    • Your employment history is highlighted in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.
    • Include your responsibilities and accomplishments under each particular job.
  • Functional resume
    • Your skills are highlighted. Your work history and gaps are de emphasized.
    • Skills and accomplishments should be divided into specific areas of expertise.
  • Combination resume
    • Your skills earned in various jobs are highlighted using a job history format.
    • Your specific skills will form the main body of the resume, followed by a concise employment history.Include These Essential Components:
    • Contact information: In the heading, include your name, address, phone number and email address.
  • Objective or job target: In one or two lines, say what kind of job you’re looking or applying for and what makes you uniquely qualified.
  • Summary of qualifications: This is a bulleted section just below the objective in the visual center of the resume.
  • Include five or six lines highlighting the skills that qualify you for the job.
  • This will include your experience, certifications and related training.
  • Title this section Highlights of Qualifications, Summary of Skills or Summary of Experience.
  • Employment history: This will vary depending on the type of resume.
  • Education and training: List colleges, schools or military training schools you attended. You can list the school’s name and location, but not necessarily the dates.
  • Special skills: Include foreign languages, computer skills or any other relevant skills that will set you apart.Make Your Resume Unique to YouYou’ve got the basics down. Now use your resume to showcase your unique abilities and accomplishments.
  • Target your resume. Change and tailor your resume for the job you’re targeting. Learn what this employer looks for and highlight those qualities.

Translate everything into civilian terms

  • For example, replace “officer in charge” with “managed.”
  • Take out the acronyms and use terms civilians understand. For example, replace “SNOIC for 2d MarDiv G-3, planning and executing all logistics for operations conducted in our AOR” with “Supervised staff of 15 people. Planned and coordinated operations conducted by various subordinate units within our division.”
  • Include your accomplishments. Use numbers to highlight achievements, if possible. For example, “Managed budget of $100K” or “Reduced training time from 26 weeks to 24 weeks.
  • Be concise. Limit your resume to one or two pages.
  • Include volunteer experience if it’s relevant to the job. Volunteer experience can add to credibility and character.
  • Leave off unnecessary details. Don’t include marital status, height and weight or religious affiliation. Leave off salary information unless it was explicitly requested.
  • Check spelling and accuracy. Proofread your resume, ask someone else to proofread it and read your resume backward to catch typos.

Write a Cover Letter

Always send a cover letter with your resume. Your cover letter will explain why you’re interested in the position and how your skills make you the best choice for the job.

  • Get the name of the person in charge of hiring. Send your email or cover letter to them. Usually, you can just call the company and ask for their name.
  • Mention the job that you’re applying for in the first paragraph. Focus on describing how your skills and abilities can help the company.
  • Keep it to one page. Use a business-letter format.
  • Always follow up. Mention that you will call to follow up and don’t forget to do it.

Tap Into Resume Building Tools

These websites have tools to help you build your resume and translate your military 

credentials and experience into civilian skills. They reference veterans, but they’re also for active duty.

  • Veterans.gov from the U.S. Department of Labor has an online job exchange with access to employers, skills translators, resume builders, interest profilers, etc.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs at va.gov offers an interest profiler, educational and career counseling and links to other job resources, such as support for veteran owned small businesses.

Prepare for Your Job Search Early

The earlier you can start your preparation for civilian employment, the better. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office on your installation can help you get started. Military OneSource also offers the Transitioning Veterans specialty consultation to further assist you in transitioning from military to civilian life.

Taking the next step in your career can be intimidating, but it’s far from impossible. You are qualified and equipped with the right tools. Go get them!

Female Marine is Guinness World Champ for burpees per minute

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Nahla Beard attempts the Guinness world record at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Aug. 7, 2021. (Cpl. Mitchell Austin/Marine Corps)

The Marines famously have the reputation of being “first to fight.” But one Marine has earned another, lesser-known, distinction: first woman to complete 27 chest-to-ground burpees in one minute.

Sgt. Nahla Beard, an air traffic control supervisor at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, smashed the Guinness World Record in burpees on Aug. 14, 2021, the service announced last month.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, a Guinness judge could not be in attendance to verify the Marine’s burpees in person. That meant Beard had to record herself and submit a video of her achievement. Base command turned out to watch, and even brought along friends and family, Beard said in a DVIDS story.

Onlookers were not disappointed: Beard broke the record by two burpees, completing an average of one burpee every 2.2 seconds. And she did it more than once.

“I ended up attempting five times on the same day because I wasn’t sure if I did it,” Beard said in the release.

Read the full story on Military Times

A full list of the 196 veterans running for Congress in 2022

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Virginia resident McArthur Myers fills out his ballot at an early voting location in Alexandria, Va., on Sept. 26. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

More than one-third of all congressional races on the ballot this November will feature a veteran, and several could help decide which party wins control of the House and Senate next year.

The 196 veterans who have won major-party primaries represent the largest group of candidates with military experience in a decade. It includes 130 non-incumbents trying to increase the total number of veterans in Congress next year.

The field also features:

  • 17 women veterans running for office;
  • 58 veterans who enlisted after Jan. 1, 2000;
  • 95 veterans with a combat deployment;
  • 90 veterans who served in the Army (the most from any service);
  • 16 races featuring two veterans against each other;
  • 43 states with at least one veteran on the ballot for national office;

Below is a list of all of the candidates with military experience who won major-party primaries this year and will appear on the November ballot. The list was compiled in partnership with the Veterans Campaign.

Read the Full Story on MIlitary Times

Deployed soldier builds anti-drone trainer, wins CENTCOM competition

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Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of Central Command, presents Sgt. Mickey Reeve with a medal for his contest-winning idea in a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Oct. 14, 2022. Reeve received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his idea of building a simulator to help soldiers train on defending against drones while deployed. (John Onuoha/U.S. Army)

A deployed Army sergeant built a program that could help troops defend themselves against deadly aerial drones in the Middle East.

Sgt. Mickey Reeve built a prototype training simulator on an 8-year-old laptop in a tent in the middle of the Arabian desert, the infantryman told Stars and Stripes.

His idea made him the winner Friday of U.S. Central Command’s first Innovation Oasis, a Shark Tank-style competition that asked troops to pitch solutions to problems they’re facing.

About 160 troops submitted ideas that included the use of blockchain technology in the military’s supply chain and using Centcom’s badging system to make daily accountability easier.

Read the Full Story on Stars and Stripes

Navy Gold Coast Conference 2022 – Event Wrap Up

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Event floor with large screen and people watching the speaker facing away from the camera - NDIA Gold Coast 2022

This year’s Annual Department of the Navy Gold Coast Conference, held September 6-8, 2022, focused on Thriving as a Department of the Navy Small Business in a World of Global Challenges.”

In its 34th year, the Navy Gold Coast Conference is the nation’s premier Navy-centered small business procurement event and the only procurement event co-sponsored by the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Office of Small Business Programs. The Navy’s primary purpose in co-sponsoring the event with the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is to educate, guide and assist businesses in providing vital goods and services to meet government needs, particularly in the Navy and Department of Defense.

Navy Gold Coast Conference event photo of a small business defense contractor at a table with a woman who works for the navy to help grow his businessThis year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference attracted over 1,700 defense industrial base attendees, and almost 250 booths lined the exhibit hall with representatives from government acquisition offices and small, medium and large businesses. Many of these are owned and operated by service-disabled veterans (SDVOSBs) or participants in the federal government’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The federal government’s goal is to award at least 3 percent of all federal contracting dollars to SDVOSBs and 5 percent to disadvantaged businesses each year, and the Navy Gold Coast Conference

This year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference sponsors included Bank of America (Platinum), Unanet and Deltek (Diamond), Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris, BAE Systems, Raytheon Technologies (Gold) and over 40 small business sponsors.

Navy Gold Coast Conference photo of a large group of people standing and talking to each other in the event islesnavyNavyThe Keynote presentation was from the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Hon. Carlos Del Toro. Additional presentations included a discussion on Small Business and the Future by the Hon. Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); a briefing on Getting Started in Government Contracting from Mr. Michael Sabellico, Senior Procurement Advisor of the San Diego Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC); and a round table discussion on DON Supply Chain Readiness including Mr. Jimmy Smith (SES), Director, DON Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) and RADM Peter Stamatopoulous, Commander of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

In addition to professional networking and small business matchmaking, a wide variety of issues affecting small business federal contracting were covered, including Exporting, Accounting Requirements, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), Mentor Protégé Programs, Racial Equality and Support for Underserved Communities, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and How to do Business with the DON and Other Government Agencies

Navy Gold Coast Conference is also the venue for the NDIA San Diego Chapter’s Twice a Citizen Award. This award is given to Reserve Service or National Guard members from the San Diego Area. Nominees demonstrate leadership, self-sacrifice, commitment to service and outstanding overall performance. Nominees must also have provided exceptional professional performance while participating in contingency/support activities outside drill weekends. This year’s winners are Chief Petty Officer Joshua R. Berman, Chief Petty Officer Joseph A. Pisano, Chief Melanie A. Maldonado and Commander Ron Giusso.

Next year’s Gold Coast is scheduled for 26-28 July 2023 in San Diego.

Post Military Life – Reflecting Over a Decade

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Bobby McDonald -

Post Military Life  – Much has changed in the world and in our country since our publication was founded. Everywhere we look, times are shifting, and it’s our goal to always be a part of learning from the past to make the future better and brighter for those who have been called to serve. The impact of veterans in their communities is multifold. They bring their skills, expertise, values and work ethic to local business, politics and the community at large. However, they have, unfortunately, not always received the aid and respect that is due to someone who honorably served in our armed forces.

As U.S. Veterans Magazine celebrates 10 years of supporting those who have been called to serve, we asked some of our partners about the difference they’ve seen in the veteran experience over the last decade.

U.S. Veterans Magazine: What do you believe has been the most significant change or benefit to veterans in the last 10 years?

Bobby McDonald, OC Black Chamber of Commerce:

Orange Country Black Chamber of Commerce Member in a White Shirt and Black spotted tie smiling - Post Military LifePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Orange Country Black Chamber of Commerce

“In the year 2012, in the county of Orange, in the State of California, there were over 150,000 veterans living in the county. Orange County was the third largest county in California behind Los Angeles and San Diego and had no outside funding or support other than the Veterans Service Office, which came basically from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, through the County of Orange. The Orange County Veterans Advisory Council (OCVAC) was formed and comprised of members appointed by the OC Board of Supervisors. The board was made up of nine members that were U.S. military veterans with honorable discharges. In 2012, the OCVAC was injected with [a] couple of Vietnam veterans that were of the mindset to make a positive change in the veterans environment and set a course of involvement, awareness, outreach, resource availability and positive outcomes. Armed with the theme ‘Have We Helped A Veteran Today’ and a commitment to help veterans get housing, education, health, employment and legal support, the group set forth to make positive measurable changes with partnerships.”

Keith King, National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC):

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NVBDC

“The inclusion of veteran-owned businesses in the supplier diversity programs of America’s leading corporations is the most significant change of the past 10 years of successful post military life. When veteran businesses were first identified as legal contracting entities in the federal government, many veteran businesses celebrated. But the hype never lived up to the promise. As the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) was forming in late 2012, it was clear that, if a third-party certification organization could create a certification program for veteran business owners that met corporate supplier diversity standards, the corporations would give certified veterans a chance to compete for contracts. In 2014, when the NVBDC presented its certification program to a group of corporations, they all gave NVBDC their tacit approval. By 2017, when the 28 corporations of the Billion Dollar Roundtable named NVBDC as the only acceptable veteran business certification to use to capture and report their veteran business spend amounts, they created an $80 billion opportunity for our veteran businesses.”

Phil Kowalczyk, President and CEO of Camp Corral:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Camp Corral

A man standing in from of his military service medals - Post Military Life
National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

The awareness and understanding of mental health challenges veterans, caregivers and their families are facing has been the most evolving trend over the last decade. Furthermore, the demographics of military and veteran communities continue to change rapidly, especially among caregivers. Camp Corral’s research has indicated that 70 percent of military children perform at least one caregiving task in wounded warrior households. Many of them experience similar emotional health challenges as their adult counterparts and caregiver responsibility can affect a child’s ability to participate in activities non-military children typically pursue. The Biden Administration recognizes these challenges and is dedicating more resources to serving military and veteran families through the ‘Joining Forces’ initiative. Commitments include support for caregiver economic opportunities and respite as well as increasing access to quality behavioral, social and emotional health resources for military and veteran families. These initiatives will be essential post military life  steps in ensuring community providers have the resources they need to provide culturally competent and evidence-based care for both children and adult caregivers of our country’s ill, wounded and fallen military heroes and veterans.”

The Rosie Network:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Rosie Network

“The U.S. offers the most extensive veteran benefits in the world. Despite this, there remain much-needed improvements and one of the most significant is the Mission Act (2019) allowing veterans to seek treatment of the VA. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I watched my mother sacrifice her nursing career to support my father’s 20 years of active-duty service. Living on a single enlisted income meant falling below the poverty line and [into] financial hardship. While military spouses continue to struggle with employment, there has been a significant shift over the past 10 years to address this issue. Today, military and veteran spouses have access to organizations and resources from Military OneSource to those seeking self-employment support from The Rosie Network.”

Patrick Alcorn, UTAVBOC:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of UTAVBOC

“The most significant benefit to veterans over the last 10 years includes the expansion of the Veterans Business Outreach Center program. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development created this program, specifically, to empower post military Life, veterans and military spouses who are interested in starting and growing their business.”

Oath of Enlistment & Veterans – Thank You for Your Service

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Oath of Enlistment - John Regester stands and smiles on a city street smiling in a black and white color only photo

Oath of Enlistment – As a retired combat disabled veteran, I have heard this heartfelt statement from many proud American citizens. I always hear it in terms of deep respect for the sacrifices men and women have made to defend our nation.

Yet, now, in this time in history in our nation, I have been thinking deeper about what these words, “thank you for your service,” and what the Oath of Enlistment actually mean.

Here’s what I mean. When I ask a person who has just thanked me for my service, what do you mean by your words? They often tell me, “well, you protected our nation,” or will say, “you fought for our country.”

Both of those are true; however, they are also byproducts of the service oath I took when I enlisted into the United States Army.

I believe what we’re missing in American Society today is honor, respect and truth for what the military service member has signed on to do. There appears to be an assumption of what “thank you for your service” means. There is no recollection or call back to the oath of service each enlisted, or officer takes to begin the process of service to our country.

The oath I took was “to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

What this means is my combat service was in defense of the United States Constitution. It was not to an individual or a group. Even though the next lines say that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, there is always an exception to the policy if an order is in contrast to the defense of the United States Constitution or is unlawful. That is the Oath of Enlistment

The next question I asked myself was when was the last time I read the United States Constitution? I realized I had not done so in quite some time. So, I downloaded the app and read through the document on Memorial Day.

What fascinates me about Article 5 is that despite the best efforts to get it right, the framers of the constitution wrote this Article to let future generations know it could be amended. They knew that what they wrote had to be a living document to stand long beyond their years on this earth.

Another interesting point about “thank you for your service” is the assumption that my amputation came due to my combat experience.

Often amputees, who served or have not served, will be mistakenly identified as service members because of their disability. I represent 70 percent of those who were not injured in combat — though my disability occurred while on active duty.

When building the United States Olympic and Paralympic Military Sports Program, the issue that gave me the greatest concern was well-meaning charitable organizations that only wanted to serve those who were injured in combat. They had no idea the rift they were causing in the hospitals because they were separating who was more worthy of their “thank you for your service.”

I was recently talking with a business coach friend of mine who served in Vietnam. When I shared with him my sentiments around, “thank you for your service,” he shared with me that when he got out, he was never un-oathed.

This oath of enlistment, I believe, is the bond that connects every service member, regardless of branch, together. Just because service members transition back to civilian life, hopefully with an honorable discharge, it does not mean we have thrown away the oath to protect the United States Constitution.

So, the next time you either hear, “thank you for your service,” or you say it to somebody, remember what the oath of service says and what it protects. Our democracy will stand or fall not on one leader but on our vigilance to defend the United States Constitution.

There remains deep respect in America for the sacrifices men and women have made to defend our nation. Let us honor those who served by understanding the United States Constitution is the depth of our defense.

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