NASM Supports Military Families with Career Opportunities

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Young military couple kissing each other, homecoming

By Chris Billingsley

NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), a global leader in fitness education and certifications, supports military families – not only on days like the annual – Military Spouse Appreciation Day – but every day by providing 30% off all courses for military members and their families, as well as a free course on mental toughness.

Since 2017, NASM has been recognized as a Military Friendly School, and its Certified Personal Training (CPT) program is also eligible for military funding reimbursement.

Not only do NASM courses offer invaluable health knowledge, for military members and their spouses, NASM also offers flexible career opportunities perfect for a military family’s lifestyle, which can often include multiple moves and makes working in a traditional environment difficult.

Working as a NASM certified personal trainer, wellness coach, or nutrition coach offers the freedom to work wherever and whenever works best for your family, while offering the purpose and satisfaction that comes from helping others achieve their goals.

In fact, for those that want to coach virtually, now is the best time to get started. NASM is seeing a 23% uptick in graduates who are offering virtual services since 2017, with the online fitness industry projected to grow from $16.15 billion this year to $79.87 billion in 2026.

Military spouses looking for career opportunities can also apply MyCAA scholarship funding to specific programs, including a Group Fitness Instructor certification through AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America).

Learners have many options for their course of study – whether they’re interested in offering clients nutritional support, fitness knowledge, or comprehensive wellness coaching. NASM even offers bundles of courses as well as specializations, such as virtual coaching, to help students create the best program for their career goals.

For more information on how NASM supports military members and their families, visit www.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/military-support.

Fort Leavenworth Military spouse continues education at 49

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Kate Hanlen posing outdoors in flowery dress smiling

Great Bend Tribune

When Kate Hanlen went on a mission trip to Honduras at the age of 19, she didn’t know she would discover her career calling that would be 30 years in the making.

“We were there to help build buildings and paint mostly,” she said. “One day there was this six-year-old girl that was on the other side of a fence, and she spoke Spanish and I did not, but she showed me her leg and it had a big wound on it. I ran and grabbed a medical kit we had, and I didn’t know very much but I helped her as much as I could and I thought ‘Lord, if this is what you’re calling me to, I embrace it.’ Since that day, I’ve always prayed that my hands will be used to help as many people as possible.”

That pivotal moment caused Hanlen to enroll in nursing school, but after two years she wasn’t sure exactly in what specific arena she wanted continue helping people so, she enlisted in the Army reserves and served as a combat medic for eight years. During that time, she met her husband who was active duty and they married in 1995. Over the next 26 years, they had six children and traveled the world as a military family with her often handling all the parental duties when her husband was on deployments.

“We’ve traveled all over the world,” she said. “However, the needs of our family were always my treasure. I wanted to be with my kids, make our house a home since we did move so much.”

With her husband retired and four of her kids out of the house and the youngest two not far behind, Hanlen realized her amazing journey as a mother was going to transition into a stage that would allow her time to focus on herself.

Her son had utilized Barton’s LSEC courses in high school at Fort Leavenworth so he could graduate college more quickly. These classes are offered on scholarship to soldiers and their families that are stationed at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

“My son and I came down to the Army Education Center and we couldn’t believe we were able to take these classes at no charge, she said. “I kept asking them ‘Are you sure a bill for thousands of dollars isn’t going to show up in a few months?’”

Of course, no bill ever showed up, and now Hanlen is utilizing Barton’s LSEC classes at Fort Leavenworth to fill in some gaps on her transcript that she needs to finish her pre-requisites before transferring to St. Mary’s University to finish her nursing school. At that time, she hopes to find a job in hospice care.

Read the complete article here.

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.

Diversity in the Healthcare Industry, at Every Step

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Abbott and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) recently announced a $37.5 million initiative to empower diverse small businesses to help create a more diverse healthcare supply chain. The initiative will provide diverse small-business owners with the tailored solutions, support and resources they need to grow, compete and create jobs – enabling greater diversity in healthcare and a more inclusive supply chain for Abbott and other healthcare companies.

This work advances Abbott and LISC’s shared commitment to create a more diverse healthcare industry and generate jobs and stronger economies in underinvested communities.

This funding opportunity is open to qualified diverse small businesses and offers support through:

  • Growth capital: interest-free capital to help businesses overcome hurdles to expansion, such as investing in management systems to comply with regulatory and environmental requirements
  • Business loans: flexible, affordable loans that would not typically be available through conventional lenders
  • Tailored coaching and technical assistance: targeted, customized support, including help with fulfilling investment and loan requirements and identifying and addressing specific business challenges

Eligible diverse small businesses for program participation and funding must be:

  • Diverse-owned, defined as those that are majority owned by people of color (including Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans), women, veterans, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ, and other historically underrepresented groups;
  • In business for more than two years and are based in the U.S. with an annual revenue of $250,000 or more; and
  • Focused on manufacturing nutrition, diagnostics, medical devices or other health technologies, or offering business-to-business products and services that the healthcare industry can use.
  • Sole proprietors are not eligible for the program.

For more information about this initiative, please visit the LISC site. And to learn more about Abbott’s work to support a more diverse supply chain, visit Abbott’s site.

Plans for the World’s Tallest Flagpole and Most Comprehensive Veterans Memorial to be Unveiled in Maine

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Flagpole of Freedom logo

The Park will create thousands of jobs and catalyze year-round economic opportunity

WHAT: Born from a desire to advance unity and patriotism in America, the founder of Wreaths Across America, Morrill Worcester, will unveil Flagpole of Freedom Park – an apolitical project 12 years in the making.

This Park will become the only place in the country to honor all 24 million American veterans in one location.

Standing taller than the Empire State Building, the Park will fly the world’s largest American flag from the tallest flagpole in the world, symbolizing the commitment and sacrifice veterans make to protect America’s freedom.

The Park will humanize key milestones that have shaped American history and will feature immersive educational experiences and living history museums. Phase 1 will open on July 4, 2026 – America’s 250th birthday.

Located in Columbia Falls, the large-scale project will catalyze economic development for the State of Maine, creating an estimated 8,000+ year-round jobs and $27M in tax revenue.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 29, 2022 11:00 a.m. Eastern

WHERE: Livestream link

WHO:

  • Morrill Worcester, Founder & Chairman of the Board, Flagpole of Freedom
  • Senator Marianne Moore (R), Washington County Maine
  • Chris Gardner, Washington County Commissioner
  • Tony Santiago, Chair, Columbia Falls Select Board
  • Tim Gatz, Maine Tourism Alliance
  • Maine State Chamber of Commerce
  • Tricia Thurston, American Legion, Department of Maine

DETAILS: Flagpole of Freedom Park: https://www.flagpoleoffreedom.com/launch/

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.

Supplier Diversity Certifications: Game Changers for the Disadvantaged

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In today’s competitive environment, every owner must take advantage of any opportunity to differentiate their company from the competition.

Supplier diversity certifications for disadvantaged businesses are an often-overlooked option with great potential. Qualifying companies include those with veteran, minority, LGBTQ+ or women owners, as well as those in historically underutilized business zones, or HUBZones. These certifications grant access to private-sector opportunities and contracts with local, state, and federal government agencies that want to do business with a diverse pool of suppliers.

Certification History

According to “A History of Corporate Supply Chain Diversity” (WEUSA 4 [2020]: 95), certification programs were born out of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and guided by legislative mandates enacted to end discrimination that gave large businesses a disproportionate share of opportunities. The program flourished in 1969, when the Office of Minority Business Enterprise was established to provide guidance and support. In 1978, the Small Business Act re-categorized minority businesses as socially and economically disadvantaged and required federal agencies to comply with new goals for federal contracts.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, new legislation fostered the advancement of federal contracting opportunities to businesses in HUBZones and those owned by women, veterans, service-disabled veterans and members of the LBGTQ+ community. Today, as more companies invest in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, the demand for diverse suppliers will only increase.

How Certifications Benefited Our Company

The owner of Black Box Safety, Jackson Dalton, is a military veteran who was disabled while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. That status could put a small business owner at a disadvantage, but it qualified Black Box Safety for certifications and network memberships that introduced us to new and otherwise inaccessible clients.

Certification with the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) gives us access to special events (such as its recent Marching Forward Monday) and networking connections that resulted in at least $90,000 in contract wins in the company’s first year of certification. Black Box also received NaVOBA’s 2021 Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprise of the Year award.

Certification with Disability:IN led to our nomination for the organization’s Pitch Perfect Challenge. We presented our pitch to a panel of experienced judges and took first place, landing a five-figure prize and a subsequent feature in a November 2021 Forbes article. Black Box also served on the Re-Imagining Your Business from 2020 Learnings conference panel, which put us in front of potential clients such as Bristol Myers Squibb.

Membership in the Veterans in Business (VIB) Network connects us with private entities, third-party nonprofits and federal contractors through conferences and events. Through VIB alone we secured at least one new regular customer per quarter, and we also increased our visibility as general-session presenters on supplier diversity at the 2021 VIB National Conference.

Black Box Safety put time, money and energy into engaging with these organizations, approaching each with a sense of how our goals and values align with theirs. That investment paid off not only in great opportunities — putting our name in front of Disney, Shell Oil, T-Mobile and other market giants — but also motivation to reach and exceed our own expectations.

The Process

When applying for diversity supplier certifications, begin with the end in mind. Define your target market and evaluate which certifications that market will value. For example, if you manufacture garden and patio decor and want to expand distribution, consider certifications accepted and valued by big-box retailers. NaVOBA certification puts you in front of their corporate sponsors, which include Lowe’s Home Improvement. Many large buyers post a list of accepted certifications on their website, and you can also ask them directly.

Next, evaluate honestly which certifications best reflect the status of your company and whether you meet their requirements. Certification is a rigorous process managed by government agencies or third-party agencies that advocate for the development of disadvantaged-owned businesses. Each has its own conditions, but most require a business to be at least 51 percent diverse-owned. Some require that the owner be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The application process does have associated costs, and you should also set aside time to navigate the documentation, screening, interviews and on-site visits needed to prove that your company is qualified.

For businesses that qualify, the advantages of obtaining diverse supplier certifications far outweigh the costs of earning them. Business partners admire this classification, and certification is alluring to diverse supplier programs. It is not an easy process: it takes not only time and money, but also perseverance and patience to earn these certifications. However, for Black Box Safety, diverse supplier certifications opened doors enough to be well worth the effort and hard work.

Source: Black Box Safety

How to THRIVE (Not Just Survive) When Your Active-Duty Spouse Retires

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By Rebecca Hyleman

From the moment you stepped into your role as a military spouse you may have also started dreaming of your life beyond the confinements of this role, living life on YOUR terms. It may feel much longer, but those years will actually show up as fast as your spouse’s PT alarm. Whether you like it or not, it will soon be time to get up and get going on a whole new life.

Understand that this transition is going to take a toll on you and your family, but it’s important to make sure your own self-care and personal preparation is a priority, not an option. Start the process a minimum of 18-24 months before the anticipated-out date, meaning 6 months to a year BEFORE your spouse drops that paperwork to retire. A great place to start is by contacting VetsWhatsNext (vetswhatsnext.org), a nonprofit agency that assists veterans and their families by walking them through their transition before, during and after they officially leave the military.

If you are reading this looking for help and your spouse has already retired, as my spouse says, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.” Start now.

Focus on Mental Health

Military spouses are often left out of the conversation about military mental health matters. Utilize Military One Source, Tricare or the Life Givers Network to find a counselor. Maybe you don’t feel like you need one, and that’s ok, look for one anyway. Search Psychology Today and find someone who looks like they will meet your needs, set up a quick five-minute introduction call or virtual meeting to see if that person could be a good fit for you.

If you are not in crisis, use the time to build rapport and create a safe space for yourself. A good therapist will help you fill your tool box with things you will need to be emotionally and mentally successful in the future. Think of this like you would a tune up. You could push your car’s mileage to wait for an oil change, but the problem is that you run the risk of major damage to your vehicle, which takes more time and parts to repair. That can be costly.

Finding a therapist before you need one sets you up for success and will help you stay in check. If something does happen, you’ll know exactly where to go (and will already be established).

Prioritize Physical Health

You may have missed appointments over the years or possibly asked a doctor to take a referral out of the system if you didn’t want to be placed into the EFMP system, unsure as to whether EFMP would risk your spouse’s career. You will, of course, be focused on your spouse, ensuring they have documented all of their medical records and are working to get their VA rating.

But what about your health? You might not be working towards a VA rating, but it doesn’t mean your health has not taken a toll over the years. Commit to finding a sitter, taking time off work and doing whatever needs to be done to prioritize getting your personal medical records in order.

Talk to your PCM (Primary Care Manger) about your needs, set up a physical and any other annual exams that may be coming up, create a plan to have refills of medications you may need, reach out to your military instillation, or other medical offices and gather your medical and vaccine records to create a file you can carry with you. If you have children, do the same for them.

Grow Through Personal Development

Consider hiring a Life Coach. Look for one who specializes in helping people with transitions. If you are not ready to jump into one-on-one coaching, start with a short workshop. Heyday Coaching’s Navigating Transitions 3-Part Workshop encouraged me to put down all of those things we carry as a military spouse, to take off the caregiver-helper hat and spend time reflecting and focusing on myself.

Dedicating specific time, with a Life Coach as my guide, I was finally able to start to answer the overwhelming questions that people were throwing my direction: “What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Are you going to finally go back to work? What comes next for you?”

One would think that I had twenty-two years to answer these questions, but I found I was staying in the role of seeking what was best for everyone in the family, and I was putting myself last on the to-do list. A Life Coach can help you hear those needs you’ve been silencing — and no longer remember. Once you rediscover your needs, share them with your spouse.

Cultivate Professional Growth

Take advantage of free programs, like the “Arm-Me-Up Careers Campaign,” through Military Spouse Jobs, a non-profit with a mission for helping military spouse’s gain employment through no-cost job placement assistance and career progression services.

Also, create a LinkedIn account to start making professional connections.

Give Space and Time to Grieve

Grief is not an exclusive feeling to the death or loss of a loved one. The five stages of grief absolutely do occur when transitioning from active-duty military to civilian life. It will come in waves, and you might not be prepared for the things that will trigger the emotions. Give yourself grace as you ride the waves of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Just when you feel you are in a sea of calm, something will happen such as, seeing friends share their next PCS assignment while you are treading water with no land in sight. The way your body will respond to simple emotional triggers may come as a surprise, but take the time to move through the feelings so that you don’t stay stuck or have them show up in a bigger way later. While you may be gaining a whole new life in retirement, you are still losing a way of life with your spouse that you’ve probably been in for at least two decades, and it’s important to give time and space to experience your emotions.

Reach Out and Make Connections

You have been a part of a uniquely connected military community, and it has helped shape you into the person you are today. Don’t think you have to walk completely away the day your spouse receives retirement orders, but do recognize you are going to be straddling the fence with one foot in the military world and one foot in the civilian one. It may take time to figure out how to balance being in both places. Find new ways to connect with people outside of your military community. If you are not working in a civilian community, volunteer with a non-military nonprofit, joining a gym or fitness group, meet up with locals who share a similar hobby or volunteer to be an assistant coach for a local recreational league. If you plan to move to a new location, or go back to your hometown, take time to reach out to contacts in the area and set up coffee dates ahead of time.

Create a Quiet Space

Find a place in your house that can be all yours. Think about emptying out just enough of your closet to make room for a yoga mat and some blank wall space. Some people like to start their day with prayer and meditation, but others struggle making their minds turn off for peaceful sleep. Instead of scrolling your phone, head into your quiet space just before bed. If you use your phone as an alarm, be sure to set the alarm before you go into your space to stave off the temptation to scroll.

Keep a stack of note cards, a nice notebook, some tape and your favorite pens in your space. Use the time before bed to write down whatever comes to mind. It could be a favorite quote, something about your family, things you want in your retirement home, any worries, job ideas or any positive praises from your day, then tape them to the wall. Some days you may just have one thing to put on a notecard, and that’s fine. Other days you may write a novel in your notebook.

Close your eyes and spend time sitting and breathing in the good things while exhaling the hard parts.

Set Boundaries

Repeat after me: YOU are not responsible for fulfilling the expectations of others. This is your life, and only you get to decide what happens next. I’m talking about your friends and family here, not your spouse. Please, include your spouse. You are going to have people in your life who have created their own scenarios for what they believe is best after your spouse retires. It’s heartwarming to know that people love you and want to plan your life for you, but it’s not their life, and YOU are not responsible for their feelings. The cool thing about being an adult leaving the military life is that you no longer have someone making decisions for you. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, you don’t just have the illusion of choice, you actually have a say in the next steps of your life. When people around you want to insert their ideas, and their feelings, it’s ok to listen, but hold onto your paper and pen. This next story is finally yours to write.

Source: VetsWhatsNext

Veterans Business Battle invites entrepreneurs to participate in 2022 competition

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HOUSTON- Rice University’s business competition geared for military veterans will take applications from new entrepreneurs. Applications are open for the 2022 Veterans Business Battle, an event that gives military veterans an opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of investors for a chance at investments, business partnerships, and prize money. In recent years, finalists received more than $4 million of investments through the program. Early-stage businesses and existing companies needing growth capital are both encouraged to apply.

This year’s event will extend networking opportunities to other business startup founders who want to attend sessions led by previous Veterans Business Battle winners.

“We’re looking forward to giving veterans the opportunity not just to share their ideas and get financing, but learn from other past winners the lessons about entrepreneurship they’ve lived through while growing their businesses ” event co-chair Reid Schrodel said.

Veterans Business Battle will award a combined $30,000 in cash prizes to winners at the event. The cash will be split between a $15,000 prize for first place, $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third place. The event is hosted by Rice Business Veterans Association, a student organization for military veterans at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

To apply, applicants must submit a business plan on the competition website, www.vetbizbattle.org, by Feb. 15. Businesses must have an honorably discharged veteran or active duty founder and equity holder who is actively running the venture.

Finalists will be invited to make their business pitch April 22-23 at Rice University. All types of businesses are encouraged. Previous winners have included retail products, a commercial drone business, technology firms and more. Those interested in competing should visit business.rice.edu/vetbizbattle

Veterans Business Battle was established in 2015 by a group of Houston entrepreneurs and Rice University’s Veterans in Business Association. The competition aims to foster entrepreneurship among veterans, grow veteran-owned businesses and give back to veterans seeking to make a difference in the business world. For more information, visit business.rice.edu/vetbizbattle

Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Ann Phillips as Chief Administrative Officer

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Chris Ann Phillips headshot

She joins Guardian Angels and brings academic and leadership experience in development, marketing, communications, human resource management and diversity, equity and inclusion.

She is a results-oriented leader and nationally recognized advocate in the veteran and disability community. As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran she brings strategic focus to the growth and development of the organization.

Chris joins us from PNC Bank where she served as the Military Affairs Liaison and Enterprise Business Lead for PNC’s Annual Community Mutt Strut – supporting veterans in danger of suicide by raising funds to provide medically trained service dogs across the country. Starting her career with PNC as a Diversity Specialist in HR recruiting, she was instrumental in the design, development, and execution of the veteran hiring strategy for PNC.

For the last 3 years Chris has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Business and Professional Communications at Duquesne University. She has held successful positions with Chrysler Corporation and the Department of Labor as a national sales trainer and regional job developer.

Her civic duties include Pittsburgh Veteran Employer Coalition and the Veteran’s Advisory Board for Duquesne University. She is an active member of the board of directors for Pittsburgh Warrior Hockey and is a highly sought-after mentor and public speaker in the military community.

Guardian Angels logoShe is the recipient of a 2013 PA ESGR Patriot Award and instrumental in PNC receiving the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award. Having twice been named in the nation’s top five finalists for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment by the US Chamber of Commerce, her commitment and passion to the veteran community is exemplary.

Chris holds master’s degrees in Leadership, Professional and Corporate Communications from Duquesne University and will complete her doctorate from Duquesne in 2022. She has two daughters, two granddaughters and a large family. In her free time, she enjoys reading, entertaining and traveling.

Joining the Guardian Angels executive leadership team at a time of amazing growth and expansion, she will be an integral part of the transformation geared towards furthering the mission and long-term sustainability. Her proven leadership and strategic focus will offer great value to our team and all those we serve.

For information about Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, visit https://www.medicalservicedogs.org/

Vet-Owned Cinch I.T.’s Mission is to Support Fellow Entrepreneurs

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Side by side images of before and after soldier and now businessman

Richard “Rick” Porter is the owner and president of Cinch I.T.’s fastest growing franchise model. He has an unwavering commitment to helping entrepreneurs make their dreams come true while driving innovation and delivering best-in-class customer service.

A member of the U.S. Army’s Special Operation community, Porter is the recipient of the Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and was named one of the Top 10 Best CEOs of 2018.

He is also a board member for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Western Massachusetts and founder of the Cinch Scholarship Foundation.

U.S. Veterans Magazine had the chance to sit down with Porter and learn more about Cinch I.T. below:

How did you find your way into the Info Tech industry after leaving the service?

I joined the United State Army as an old man! At least compared to most of the other recruits. My family encouraged me to go to college and get a degree before enlisting and I thought that was good sound advice. So, after high school, I started college and began working full time for a tech company in Massachusetts. After my service, it was just what came naturally to me. I settled back into the only other industry that I knew.

Why did you create Cinch I.T.?

I am not the founder, but I was employee number 3 and eventually bought 100 percent ownership of the company as the original founder was looking to move on.

Cinch I.T. was founded in 2004 to help businesses owner become more productive and profitable through better technology. Businesses were becoming more reliant on their technology to simply operate. Business owners were also realizing that their technology was either making them money or costing them money.

There was a need for an IT company who could provide these entrepreneurs with the right technology that would give them a competitive advantage in their industries, and one that would be there every step of the way to support that technology to ensure they remained productive.

How important is it to you that Cinch I.T. is 50 percent veteran-owned and operated?

I believe that veterans can become amazing business owners. They possess all the right qualities, such as discipline, a strong work ethic, attention to detail and many more. Specifically, they can excel in franchising because they have spent their entire military careers following a proven system, processes and standards. “Task, Condition, Standard”

As a veteran myself, I have initiated so many military-inspired processes and built a culture around many military ideologies. Our helpdesk, for example, is set up in “fire teams.” The fireteams are capable of autonomous operations as part of the larger unit, the company.

Bringing veterans into the Cinch I.T. franchise system is important to me because they will fit in with our culture from day one and they will easily adopt our proven process. These two factors will lead to a greater chance of success for them as entrepreneurs. We are not successful if they are not!

How has offering Veteran franchises 50 percent off their initial franchise fee created opportunities for other veterans within your company?

Honestly, I don’t believe veterans choose Cinch I.T. because we offer them 50 percent off their initial franchise fees, but I hope that it makes their journey into entrepreneurship that much easier and that they see how much we appreciate their service and sacrifices.

Why do you feel veterans are great assets to the I.T. industry?

Military veterans learn many roles and skills throughout their service, such as strategic planning, logistics, IT, telecommunications, contingency-planning, risk management, team building, leadership development and character-building. It’s because of this that veterans can quickly master complicated new technologies.

Give a veteran a difficult technical or business problem and they will find the solution. They have the grit and determination to complete the mission.

What are your goals for Cinch I.T. moving forward?

Cinch I.T.’s goal is to expand into most major cities on the East Coast by the end of 2022 while building a strong network of amazing franchise partners who want to grow and thrive together.

Photo Credit: Provided by Cinch I.T.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. LA Fleet Week
    May 27, 2022 - May 30, 2022
  5. Buffalo Soldier Iron Riders Quasquicentennial Gathering
    June 13, 2022 - June 19, 2022