Every year about 200,000 military service members transition from active duty to civilian life, with most of these valuable members of our communities experiencing significant and, at times, painful life changes.
While some return to their “home of record,” most will relocate to a new place offering meaningful employment or job-related education.
During reintegration, each veteran and their loved ones face unique challenges and circumstances. They need adaptable, customized support in vital areas, such as navigating VA services, education, employment, physical and emotional wellness, financial literacy and housing.
Applying military-learned skills to civilian life 39%
A Pew Research Center survey published in September 2019 indicates that 26 percent of veteran respondents found transitioning to civilian life was very or somewhat difficult. That percentage jumped to 48 percent for veterans who served after 9/11.
After years of high veteran unemployment, the tide appears to be turning, at least for finding a job. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report in April 2022 shows that veteran unemployment was 4.4 percent in 2021, compared with 5.3 percent for nonveterans. Unemployment for both white and Black veterans was lower than for their nonveteran counterparts. The picture continues to brighten, with veteran unemployment at 3.7 percent in April 2022, compared with 3.9 percent for the country.
Getting a job is just one challenge. Another challenge is keeping it or using it as a launchpad into a rewarding career. Pre-COVID-19 job attrition for veterans is alarming. Forty-three percent of veterans left their first civilian job within a year, and 80 percent before their second anniversary.
Civilian recruiters are increasingly better at matching a veteran’s former Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in job placement. However, MOS assignment is driven not only by a service member’s Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) but also by the military’s needs.
In short, a veteran’s former MOS might not reflect current passions or career aspirations. Is there a way to improve job retention?
The National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI), or REBOOT for short, a San Diego nonprofit focused on reintegration, is collaborating with the scientific community to develop and test Job-Set, a smart app providing veterans a chance to be matched with actual jobs they qualify for that they might not otherwise find or consider. Using an artificial intelligence-based algorithm to help a user build a profile based on 600+ attributes, Job-Set finds matches in a database of millions of jobs by capitalizing on O*NET, the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program and the National Labor Exchange. Currently in beta testing, Job-Set is free for veteran and military spouse job seekers.
Reintegration delays cause problems. Homelessness, drug addiction, divorce and incarceration are symptoms of a disjointed support system for transitioning veterans. Today roughly 45,000 nonprofits and numerous federal, state and local government agencies offer support. Navigating through this huge network is both confusing and frustrating.
To help navigate the transition process, NVTSI recently transformed DoD’s Managing Your Transition Timeline manual into an app to help service members manage their transition as early as 24 months before their release. The app also connects users directly to participating local veteran service organizations for a warm hand-off.
Written By Kate Karniouchina, Maurice Wilson and Jim Wong
“Now is the time to create a national structure — characterized by functional cooperation, cross-sector collaboration and an integrated network — to establish a no-wrong-door capacity that allows our country to reintegrate effectively veterans and their families as a matter of course.”
With this in mind, NVTSI created a prototype Center for Military Veterans Reintegration (CMVR). Designed to be owned and staffed by the local community, the first CMVR opened in Downey, Calif., in May 2022 as both a physical location and an electronic portal (Eco-Center) with easy access for veterans and their families in greater Los Angeles. The CMVR’s purpose is to spur public-private partnerships to streamline the journey home for veterans and ease the burden on loved ones.
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:
Photo 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
“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 anl growing
Women in the Military – In recent years, there have been numerous firsts for women in the military. Women are shattering barriers and inspiring others through their dedication to serving our country and their commitment to mission readiness. Demonstrating that grit and perseverance combined with a passion for service and adherence to excellence are the cornerstones of success for women in the military, we celebrate them as they continue to reach new heights.
First Woman Leads SOUTHCOM: Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson
Photo Caption and Credit: Gen. Laura J. Richardson (Courtesy of U.S. Southern Command)
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson is a four-star general in the U.S. Army and commander of U.S. Southern Command where she oversees U.S. military operations across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Prior to leading SOUTHCOM, she was the commanding general of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
During her Senate confirmation hearing Richardson said, “We must hasten to pick up the pieces left by the pandemic and transform our relationships to meet 21st-century security challenges. Put simply, winning together with our allies and partners matters.” Richardson continued, “We will draw upon the strength in our neighborhood from partners who share our values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and gender equality.”
According to SOUTHCOM, “Over her career, General Richardson has commanded from the Company to Theater Army level as a notable women in the military . She commanded an Assault Helicopter Battalion in combat in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), deploying her unit from Fort Campbell, Ky. to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She has also served in numerous staff assignments at a myriad of locations, including Military Aide to the Vice President at the White House in Washington, D.C., the Army’s Legislative Liaison to Congress at the U.S. Capitol and at the Pentagon as an Army Campaign Planner.”
First Female State Command Chief for Minnesota Air National Guard
Photo Caption and Credit: Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson (MN Air National Guard)
Master Sergeant Lisa Erikson is the most senior enlisted member of the Minnesota Air National Guard. As the State Command Chief, she plays a vital role in the development and readiness of the force. Since October 2021, she has been responsible for leading and managing roughly 2,000 Airmen located at two separate wings and one headquarters across Minnesota.
“My priorities are to build relationships to improve the resiliency of the force so we may provide this state and nation a ready force,” said Erikson. “I will also provide opportunities for development and growth” for women in the military.
According to the Minnesota Air National Guard, “Erikson brings tremendous diversity of experience having held six very different duty positions throughout her 32 years of service. She began her career as a Jet Engine Mechanic on the C-141 cargo aircraft. She succeeded in this traditionally male career field in a time when there were only five to six percent females in the U.S. Air Force. She transitioned into administrative roles include training manager, personnel systems manager and 148th Recruiting Office Supervisor. She served as the Senior Noncommissioned-Officer-In-Charge of the 148th Medical Group for 10 years. In this role, she deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the Wing’s aviation deployment.”
Utah National Guard Promoted First Brigadier General
Photo Caption and Credit: Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto (Courtesy of Utah National Guard)
In May 2021, Col. Charlene Dalto became the first female to be promoted to brigadier general in the Utah Army National Guard, assuming the role of commander of the Utah National Guard Land Component Command.
She served the first 20 years of her military career as an enlisted Soldier, attaining the second-highest rank as a master sergeant. Dalto then commissioned as a first lieutenant working with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 18 years as an officer.
Dalto shared, “Throughout my military career, I have been privileged to know many great Soldiers and be mentored by outstanding leaders. I pledge to continue that tradition for the Soldiers under my command. Together, we will dedicate ourselves to the great tradition of the Utah Army National Guard for excellence in serving the citizens of Utah and our great nation.”
First Latina Earns Expert Infantryman Badge
Photo Caption and Credit: 1st Lt. Maria Eggers (Spc. Johnathan Touhey/U.S. Army)
Army 1st Lt. Maria Eggers earned the expert infantryman badge in April 2021when she completed the five-day test that gauges the ability to execute a variety of critical infantry skills and a Soldier’s physical fitness. The test evaluates skill mastery in various environments and under stress. While all combat roles opened to women in 2016, fewer than 100 women serving in the U.S. Army have received the expert infantryman badge.
Eggers was raised in a military family with both of her parents serving, which inspired her to join the military. She is currently serving at Fort Hood as a platoon leader.
When asked about her experience and upon learning that she was the first Latina to earn the award in the regiment, Eggers said, “I was shocked by how few females have had the opportunity or who have tried. I definitely think it is amazing that we have females that are in this profession and that we’re succeeding. There is a lot of good talk that happens whenever somebody is successful. It just shows that we can do it, and that females are strong, and we can handle this job too.”
Soldiers begin the five-day test by running four miles in 40 minutes then demonstrating their weapons skills. On day two they wear their combat gear while completing day and night land navigation courses. On the third and fourth days, the Soldiers are evaluated on their ability to care for injured personnel. On day five, they complete the ruck, a 12-mile foot march completed in three hours while wearing full body armor. The test is both a challenge, both physically and mentally.
First Female General Strengthens West Virginia Army National Guard
Photo Caption and Credit: Then Col. Michaelle M. Munger (Courtesy of West Virginia National Guard)
Col. Michaelle M. Munger was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in December 2021, making her the first female general officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard. Munger has served in every component of the U.S. Army — active duty, U.S. Army Reserves and the Army National Guard throughout her 27-year career.
“Having a female voice at the table is critical in strengthening our National Guard,” Munger said. “What we bring to the mission is unique not because we are females, but because of our ability to approach the mission in perhaps a different perspective and viewpoint. Additionally, by being at the table, we can display our competency and capabilities, and to dispel stereotypes to help younger Soldiers not face the same gender-related limitations and hurdles we might have faced in our own careers. Every Soldier needs to be heard and judged based not on their sex, but by their ideas and vision.”
Munger serves as Special Assistant to the Adjutant General of West Virginia where she assists with special projects, mentorship, inclusion and diversity initiatives and leadership development within the WVNG.
“My own method to success has been perseverance and self-reflection,” she said. “And I try to instill in every Soldier I work with to be the 4 Ps: Productive, Present, Prompt, Professional. I am super-excited for the talented, smart, bright, energetic younger crop of women now entering the military and the opportunities and doors that are continually opening to them. They inspire me, and hopefully, I inspire them too. But I want to be a role model for all Soldiers, not just females, that doing the right thing, growing where you are planted and making the effort will allow you to succeed.”
Alabama Air National Guard Named First Female General
Photo Caption and Credit: Tara D. McKennie (then-Air Force Col.) (Courtesy of Alabama National Guard)
Brigadier General Tara D. McKennie, the Assistant Adjutant General-Air and Air Component Commander, Joint Force Headquarters, Montgomery, Ala., commands all units of the Alabama Air National Guard, and serves as the key advisor to the Adjutant General of Alabama on all matters relating to the air mission. She is the first Black female general officer in either component of the Alabama National Guard.
McKennie enlisted in the Air Force in 1989 as an airman basic, serving six years on active duty before commissioning as a second lieutenant through the Army’s Officer Candidate School in 1999.
McKennie’s entire professional career has been in health care operations focusing on optimization theory, implementation of management processes and developing and leading people. In addition to her military service, McKennie is currently Vice President of Culture and Leadership Development for a national physician practice, supporting and leading operations for 5000+ employees.
MCRD San Diego Celebrates First Female Boot Camp Graduates
Photo Caption & Credit: Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, congratulate each other after graduating from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif. For the first time in MCRD San Diego’s history, male and female platoons completed their 13-week training concurrently in a gender-integrated company. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
In May 2021, dozens of women graduated from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, marking a first for the Marine Corps. This milestone event is part of the Marine Corps’ efforts to expand training opportunities for female Marines. Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, was the camp’s first ever co-ed company. In 2019, Congress ordered the Marine Corps to make both boot camps, Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego co-ed. In the past, women could only train and become enlisted Marines at Parris Island, training apart from the men in their battalion. With the passage of the 2019 law, Parris Island was required to integrate women into training alongside men within five years and San Diego was given eight years. San Diego adopted the change six years sooner than required.
Fifty-three women completed the grueling Crucible, a three-day training exercise, and earned the name Marine while also making history. According to military.com, “The platoon of female recruits won the final drill competition last month; they also had the highest Physical and Combat Fitness Test scores in their company. And their rifle range scores were higher than the average female platoon at Parris Island.”
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.
Professional Athletes with Military Service are some of the jobs our nation’s veterans transition to, besides a multitude of different and exciting industries once they’ve completed their military service. Several have become some of the biggest names in sports. Here are some of your favorite athletes who also spent time in the military.
Dusty Baker – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr. has been a baseball phenom for his entire career. He played baseball from 1976 to 1986 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. Baker coached for the San Francisco Giants from 1988 to 1992; and has managed five major league teams since 1993, currently managing for the Houston Astros. Throughout his career, he has become a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion and has been recognized three times as National League Manager of the Year. Dusty Baker is also a U.S. Marine. Baker served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a mechanic motor transport from 1968 to 1974 during the Vietnam War. “Out here on the baseball diamond, it’s like teammates are your brothers,” Baker said of the similarities between baseball and the service, “I learned more about teamwork in the Marines, more than anything else. If we get in a fight or whatever there is, you better not touch my teammate.”
Alejandro Villanueva – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Alejandro Villanueva played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens before his recent retirement from the NFL. He mainly played offensive tackle, becoming one of the Steelers’ starting players and ranking 24th out of all of the offensive tackles in the NFL. Before his football career, Villanueva served in the Army. The son of a Spanish Naval Officer, Villanueva enrolled and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was eventually assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he served his first deployment, which earned him a Bronze Star Medal for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire. Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan. During his five years of service, Villanueva received the National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among other recognitions.
David Robinson – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Sporting News via Getty Images
David Robinson was one of the greatest basketball players of the 1990s. During his time in the NBA, playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson became a two-time NBA champion, the 1995 MVP, a 10-time NBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. But before he became one of the most admired ball players on the court, Robinson served in the U.S. Navy. Upon receiving his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy, Robinson was assigned to the Civil Engineering Corps at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, where he did engineer work and recruiting campaigns. Keeping his days of service close to his heart, Robinson supports military families in any way he can. He was also a military child whose father was deployed during his upbringing. “I know the price that people pay to serve our country,” Robinson stated to the Department of Defense, “and so it’s just a blessing to be able to come in and encourage the families here that are paying that price for us.”
Arnold Palmer – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/WireImage
Although his claim to fame happened decades ago, ardent golfers of any age know the name Arnold Palmer. He won 62 PGA tour titles from 1955 to 1973, making him one of the top five golfers of all time. But before he became a golf superstar, Palmer served with the U.S. Coast Guard for four years. After losing his college friend and roommate to a car accident, Palmer enlisted in the service as a way to give back to his community and save lives. He served from 1951 to 1954 as a lifeguard at Cape May, N.J., and as a photographer at Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer heavily credits his time with the Coast Guard as one of the main influences in his upbringing. In a conversation with Coast Guard historian Richard A. Stephenson, Palmer shared, “I’m very proud of the fact that I was in the Coast Guard… The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard made me a better person. The military isn’t just about restrictions, it’s a learning experience, and it’s very important that young people have that opportunity to learn and to know themselves a little better. I think the military helps put that in the right perspective.”
Harris “Hurley” Haywood – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Army/Terrance Bell-
Harris “Hurley” Haywood is a world-class race car driver with over 35 years of professional experience under his belt. Haywood has won multiple events, including five overall victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is credited with the 1988 Trans-Am title, two IMSA GT Championship titles and 23 wins, three Norelco Cup championships, a SuperCar title and 18 IndyCar starts. But before his racing career began, Haywood was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a specialist 4 with the 164th Aviation Group near Saigon, Vietnam. After serving his one tour, Haywood returned to the United States and began his racing career, where he used many of the lessons he learned in Vietnam to help him become a better driver. Haywood credits his service for giving him one of the most critical skills to have as a racecar driver: the ability to adapt.
Melissa Stockwell – Professional Athletes with Military Service
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
Melissa Stockwell is no stranger to athletic successes. A paralympic triathlete swimmer, Stockwell has competed in the Paralympics twice, one of which earned her a bronze medal. She is a three-time gold medalist in the ICU Triathlon World Championships. Before her athletic successes, Stockwell served as an Army Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. She served from 2002 to 2005 and spent the latter part of her military career deployed in Iraq. While leading a convoy in Baghdad, Stockwell was struck by a roadside bomb, resulting in the loss of her left leg. She retired from the military after the accident, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for her service. Along with taking an interest in swimming, Stockwell worked as a prosthetist and served on the board of directors of the Wounded Warrior Project. Besides her numerous achievements in triathlons, Stockwell holds the title of the first Iraq veteran to be chosen for the Paralympics.
Since the beginning of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s tenure, he has been adamant about the importance of mental health in the military and prevention of veteran suicide. Secretary Austin has announced the establishment of a new program aimed at tackling one of the greatest issues surrounding mental health and military personnel: suicide prevention.
Secretary Austin’s newly established program, the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC), will address and prevent suicide in the military pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
“We have the strongest military in the world because we have the strongest team in the world,” Secretary Austin stated upon establishing the program, “It is imperative that we take care of all our teammates and continue to reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remain a key priority. One death by suicide is one too many. And suicide rates among our service members are still too high. So, clearly, we have more work to do.”
The SPRIRC will be responsible for addressing and preventing suicide in the military, beginning with a comprehensive review of the Department’s efforts to address and prevent suicide. The SPRIRC will review relevant suicide prevention and response activities, immediate actions on addressing sexual assault and recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military to ensure SPRIRC recommendations are synchronized with current prevention activities and capabilities. The review will be conducted through visits to numerous military installations, focus groups, individuals and confidential surveys with servicemembers contemplating veteran suicide.
The SPRIRC recently started installation visits to prevent veteran suicide. The installations that will be utilized in this study will be:
Fort Campbell, Ky.
Camp Lejeune, N.C.
North Carolina National Guard
Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
Camp Humphreys, South Korea
By December 20, 2022, the SPRIRC will send an initial report for review in advance of sending a report of findings and recommendations to Congress by February 18, 2023.
“As I have said many times, mental health is health — period,” Secretary Austin additionally stated, “I know that senior leaders throughout the Department share my sense of commitment to this notion and to making sure we do everything possible to heal all wounds, those you can see and those you can’t. We owe it to our people, their families and to honor the memory of those we have lost.”
To view Secretary Austin’s full memorandum on veteran suicide prevention and updates on the SPRIRC, visit the Department of Defense’s website at defense.gov.
Post Military Education – Going back to school is one of life’s big choices. And like all major decisions, it might feel a little overwhelming — particularly if you’re just starting to navigate the civilian world again after military service.
Make it a little easier by breaking your decision down into smaller steps. If you’re on the fence about whether to continue your education, here are five questions you can ask yourself before taking the leap back into school.
What is my goal? (Or what do I want to be when I grow up?)
This one tops our list for a reason. Once you have an answer to this critical question, you can start working backwards. Before you commit money and time to returning to school, think about what you hope to achieve by continuing your post military education and where you see your civilian career taking you. You don’t want to take courses without an endgame in mind because then you might end up with classes you don’t need.
If you’re not sure of your goal, consider the skills you mastered in the military and how they might translate to a civilian career. Evaluate your strengths using a test, like with the CareerScope Assessment at the Department of Veterans to identify potential job courses. See a career counselor or find someone in your field of interest to meet with or even shadow for a day. But you don’t have to do any of this alone. The VA also offers free career and educational counseling to those who are about to leave the military or who have recently transitioned.
What should I study?
Once you’ve decided on a career path, it’s time to choose a program of study for your post military education. If you want to work at VA, you can pick from just about any program. As the largest integrated health care system in the nation, we employ hundreds of thousands of clinical and non-clinical staff across the country. We have job opportunities across the spectrum of careers, not just in health care.
Where should I go to school?
There are thousands of colleges in the U.S., ranging from two-year technical schools to four-year liberal arts schools. Narrow down your list by finding a school that offers the program you’re interested in and is located nearby if you plan to attend in person. You might also want to consider a school with an active veteran community and resources for former military for post military education.
Can I afford it?
We want to make sure the answer to this question is a definitive yes. As a veteran, you may be eligible to receive funding for some or all of your college, graduate school or post military education training program through the GI Bill — not to mention the generous scholarships, loan repayment and reimbursement and partner programs with colleges and universities that are available to VA employees. The VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) scholarship even pays your salary and tuition while you pursue clinical licensure.
Do I have time?
Juggling a career, family life and school can be a delicate balancing act. Be sure you’re at the right place in your life to devote the time you need to your studies. It might be helpful to make a list of the time challenges you foresee and the resources you can put in place to help you manage them. Building this support system now can save you headaches down the road. At VA, you’ll find a culture of continuous learning with flexible work schedules, possible telework options and generous leave to help you manage going back to school.
A 36-year military career filled with firsts concluded when Brig. General Joane Mathews — the first female Native American general officer in the Army National Guard — retired from her position as Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army.
“As much as I absolutely love my job, the Soldiers and families I work for and with, we have so many outstanding leaders who are ready for that next step,” Mathews said in explaining her decision. “I’ve never been one to hold anyone up.”
Mathews’ military career began in 1986 when she completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. She spent 11 years on active duty as a helicopter pilot and flew numerous missions in northern Iraq’s no-fly zone as part of Operation Provide Comfort. When her time on active duty concluded, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
“It was a bit of a culture shock,” she recalled. “But what impressed me the most were the Soldiers. It amazed me how dedicated our Guard members were, then and now — having to comply with the same active-duty regulations and policies, with a lot less time to meet those requirements.”
Mathews spent time during her first drill weekends talking with and learning about her fellow Soldiers.
“I remember being so impressed with what they do on the civilian side,” Mathews said. “It reinforced to me, again, not to judge people by their rank — because a private, a specialist or second lieutenant with just a few years in the military may have years of leadership experience or be a subject matter expert in their career field. Everyone has something to offer and to give.”
During her time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Mathews earned numerous awards and achieved several milestones. She was the state’s first non-medical female colonel, the first female commander of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment and the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female brigade commander when she assumed command of the 64th Troop Command brigade.
She was the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female chief of staff for Army, and the first female assistant adjutant general for readiness and training when she was promoted to brigadier general. The Fish Clan member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians became the first female Native American general officer in the entire Army National Guard.
In June 2018, after two years as assistant adjutant general, Mathews became the deputy adjutant general for Army, responsible to the adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s performance and readiness for federal and state missions.
“The deputy adjutant general Army position carries a lot of responsibility,” Mathews said. “I care so much for our Soldiers, and I hurt when they hurt. People have and always will be my No. 1 priority.”
Mathews understood that many Soldiers are reluctant to speak to a general officer, so she tried to be as approachable as possible.
“I didn’t let the position go to my head,” she said. “I do my best to try and keep people at ease when speaking with them. I also speak from the heart when I am in front of Soldiers or even one-on-one. I really believe people know when one is being honest and sincere, showing care and concern. They can also see right through you when you’re not.”
Her attitude will undoubtedly serve her well in her current role as director of the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy. She began the position in late April, upon the selection of her replacement as deputy adjutant general for Army.
Mathews said she advised Wisconsin’s new deputy adjutant general for Army to stay out of the office and away from the desk as much as possible.
“Walk around the building, talk to Soldiers, Airmen and our civilian employees and retiree volunteers,” she said. “Get out and travel — visit our Soldiers in their environment. And most importantly, when you speak with folks, listen to what they have to say. Be an active listener and a voice of change for them — a change for the better.”
Mathews carried on a legacy of military service in her family and expressed hope when she was promoted to brigadier general that she would be a positive role model for other female service members. She credited her success to her family, both biological and military.
“I have been so very blessed to have worked with so many dedicated Soldiers, Airmen and civilians throughout my career,” Mathews said. “I am grateful for my military career and am happy I will still be a part of the Department of Military Affairs family in my next adventure in life.”
Sitting across the table from him, you see a handsome well trained, dark-haired dark-eyed, well-built man. Staring off into the windows with a gaze I could tell was of a land far away. Former Air Force TACP officer Seth Griffith is at dinner with friends, but his heart and thoughts are back in Ukraine, where he just returned from. I have the honor of calling this veteran hero — friend and wanted to share his story, especially since he and so many of his brothers in arms are still serving as civilians in the war zone of Ukraine. Serving not in the fight but in the humanitarian rescue of the children caught up in this war. Saving the orphans. However, to understand how Seth got to the front lines of Ukraine, you should first know his journey.
Seth grew up in the suburbs of St Louis, Mo. He chose the military path because he was in a place where he felt he needed to grow up. As an athlete, the military offered him a way to use his athletics and teamwork mentality to excel in a team environment.
His stepfather was in the Air Force and had always told him there were some unique jobs the Air Force could offer him, and he should investigate them. He did just that, and the TACP job excited him. For those not familiar, a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) officer directs lethal and nonlethal joint firepower anywhere, anytime battle calls for it. They are also the primary Air Force advisors to the U.S. Army, joint multinational and special operations ground force commanders for the integration of air, space and cyber power. They are considered Special Warfare Airmen. Seth felt he could go to Army schools and work alongside the combat arms side of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — all of which got his blood pumping!
He served for just over 20 years before he retired, serving seven deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2012.
His transition away from this military into civilian life was a struggle. A struggle until now. Where he has landed into a new team! He struggled to connect with a lot of people in corporate America. “I met some great people, don’t get me wrong, but the mentality was a very different ‘team’ environment or lack thereof than I was used to. I excelled in each position but spent several years in the construction and homebuilding industry bouncing around, trying to find the right fit. Turns out if it wasn’t the fit, I just had other passions of serving.
Finding my current position with the Ariel Recovery Group has truly filled a void and brought fulfillment back into my professional life.”
Our conversation continued, and I decided to cross the bridge of PTS and ask if he had any challenges with it. Seth’s response was very candid.
I do. Triggers hit us all differently, and I do not use any PTS as an excuse for behaviors and dislike any victim mentalities. I knew what I was signing up for — volunteered. My triggers are centered around emotional numbness and past alcohol consumption. Deployments and crazy schedules, once you get home from deployments to keep you proficient for your next deployment date (that you sometimes knew before your current deployment was even complete), is a hard pace for someone who is struggling with PTS, mental or financial issues or adjusting to a divorce. And we do not want to miss the next deployment, so we underplay injuries so that we can go do our jobs when we are counted on.
I try to focus on “what is real” to power through. My amazing wife Jenna taught me that phrase and has provided me with a far better understanding of trauma and trauma-related responses than I had before. Living with PTS is very doable; you are newlywed with a new RIGHT job and thriving just proves you can succeed. You just have to keep the never-quit mentality and keep doing the work.
Now to Ukraine, how did you get there? Please tell me about the Ariel Recovery Group.
Aerial Recovery Group is comprised primarily of retired or separated special operations vets who are highly skilled, trained and have the outside-of-the-box mindset to rapidly deploy into sometimes very dynamic situations and be the ultimate humanitarian operators to deploy at a moment’s notice. We deployed to natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti last year, the flash flood in Waverly, Tenn., Hurricane Ida, the tornadoes in Mayfield, Ky. and anything we had the bandwidth to respond to.
We also respond to manmade disasters like the Afghanistan crisis that occurred late summer last year (we were very involved) and Ukraine. I’m currently back for my second deployment to rescue orphans and refugees from areas under attack and evacuate them into safe zones in the country where we can keep them secure and move them again quickly if the ground situation changes drastically from where it currently is.
What specifically is your role with the organization? I understand this organization is a nonprofit.
Seth, how did you guys decide to get involved in Ukraine?
Anytime there is an event in the world, we immediately look at how our company can go and serve. We have some very strong NGO partners, and we mutually support each other. In Ukraine, it was a no-brainer, just like Afghanistan was, to rapidly deploy and start saving lives. We already knew we would be getting involved in the crisis. Preexisting partnerships gave us an additional reason to be there so we could get in with the government and start rescuing orphans and anyone who wanted to be immediately evacuated from areas currently in high threat.
Last but not least, what is next for you?
Personally, I would love to travel more with my wife and family and unwind and unplug from the world a little bit. I love my job and have found a renewed purpose for me. In general, my family and friends have become my hobby, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. When your free time is limited, you make the most of it or at least try to after you’ve had a cool-off period.
So, if a buddy wants to go shooting, I go shooting. Hiking, count me in. Family dinner — that’s the priority hobby for that moment! But other than that, my hobbies are pretty much anything outdoors, or enjoying on, in or under water sports during the warm weather months or in the part of the world we are in at that minute. Lastly, and this is the one thing I really do just for me, football. I love the sport, and it’s a way for me to unplug from everything else for around three hours and be a big kid again.
Since relocating to the former Fort McPherson Army base in Atlanta in 2015, Tyler Perry Studios has become an even-greater force in the entertainment and commercial production industry, promising enormous employment potential for military veterans in Georgia.
“Cooperation with this powerful studio at the center of Atlanta’s burgeoning place in motion picture, television and commercial production is huge for Vets2Set and provokes us to launch a major recruiting effort in the South,” reports David Cohen, president and co-founder of Vets2Set. “When employers enrolled in our organization search our database to staff a production, we want them to find production assistants matching their every need from Covid Compliance Officers to disciplined and well-trained veterans familiar with electronics, flying drones, driving trucks, security and construction, among other skills. The majority of our veterans live in New York and California, but the opportunities in the South are tremendous now thanks to Tyler Perry.”
Cohen hopes to recruit new candidates in the Atlanta area in part through cooperation with Vetlanta, an organization providing veterans with business networking services.
Chief Operating Officer of Tyler Perry Studios, Robert Boyd II and President of Original Programming, Angi Bones, spoke with Cohen to discuss how Vets2Set operates and within a few days, the studio was signed up and ready to hire.
Tyler Perry Studios occupies 330 acres in the city of Atlanta, offering 12 state-of-the-art sound studios and a large backlot with prepared sets for a baseball field, farmhouse, prison yard, bank and the White House, among others. Creative options are endless, and the opportunity for career development for veterans is extensive. Cooperation with Vets2Set is a logical extension of Tyler Perry’s commitments and successes as a writer, actor, producer, director and philanthropist. Tyler Perry Studios joins more than 200 other employers working with Vets2Set to launch military veterans in civilian careers in production. Other cooperating producers include Walt Disney Television, Warner Brothers, MLB Network, NBCUniversal, RSA Films, Shutterstock Studios and advertising agencies, including BBDO Atlanta.
When staffing a shoot, cooperating producers have access to the contact details and skills profiles of hundreds of military veterans around the country. The Vets2Set database can be searched by zip code, state, city and skills. Producers then hire military veterans to fill already budgeted positions the same way they would hire any other production assistants. The contact between employer and veteran is direct. As a not-for-profit organization, Vets2Set takes no fees for developing and promoting use of its database but rather runs entirely on volunteer labor and donations from corporate sponsors and private donors.
Military veterans and media employers can enroll in this veteran employment program at vets2set.org. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resumes provide a historical snapshot of your experience, knowledge and skills. Recruiters should be able to review your resume and understand the work you have done, the length of your experience and your capabilities within a matter of minutes.
Resumes should encapsulate your experience as briefly as possible. Quantifying your experience can make them easier for recruiters to understand.
What’s in a resume? All good resumes include some standard information:
List of technical skills
Honors and awards
Level of clearance held
The first section of a cover letter should include your contact information, such as your name, address, preferred phone number and personal email address.
Your most recent experience should be listed first, and the rest of your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. Experience typically includes the company or agency you worked for, the position you held, the dates you worked there and highlights of your responsibilities.
Unless you have not been working for very long, you have no reason to detail the jobs you held early in your career. Focus on your most recent and relevant positions.
Highlight any accomplishments or results of your work that will be relevant to the position, such as those that:
Required extra effort
You completed independently
These should emphasize results you produced, dollars generated or saved, percentage improvements in performance, the extent to which you exceeded goals in the past or organizational turnarounds you created.
List of Technical Skills
Technical skills can vary widely from methodologies to software or hardware. Technical skills do not often require explanation and can be listed by name; however, you must qualify your experience with each so that recruiters know your level of understanding of these skills. For example, a recruiter that is interested in process improvement will know about Six Sigma (a business management and process improvement methodology), so you will not have to explain it, but if you listed that, you should state what level belt you are and how long you have been practicing. The same rule applies to word processing and programming tools or hardware, such as servers.
Your education information should only include pertinent facts such as:
Name of the institution where you earned your highest degree
City and state of the institution
Date you graduated or received the degree
Specific degree earned
Minors or double majors
If you attended college or a technical school but did not receive a degree, you should state how long you attended and your field of study. However, you must be clear that you did not receive a degree. If you did not attend college or a vocational school, you would include information about your high school education or GED. List your most recent degree first. If you are still enrolled in an institution, list it. Do not forget to include the anticipated date of graduation and the degree expected.
You have most likely received a significant amount of job-related training through the military. Provide details on the training and courses that you took throughout your career. List only the training that has enhanced your experience and skills, which will be of immense value in your new position. If the course title is not descriptive or is unfamiliar, summarize or briefly describe the course to potential resume evaluators. Don’t assume the resume evaluator will understand the terms in your resume. If there is any doubt, convey the meaning.
If you include languages on your resume, state your level of fluency (such as novice, intermediate or advanced). Do not overstate your level of proficiency. If your fluency is very limited, it is probably not worth listing the language.
Your professional affiliations can relate your past work and your current job profile if you are working in the same field. On a resume, they inform recruiters that you have a professional interest beyond your day-to-day job.
Emphasize current contributions and provide some details to explain your abilities within precise areas. It is recommended that you not include any political affiliations since hiring managers or an agency may fail to judge you enthusiastically. If you decide to include them anyway, be tactful in describing your involvement.
If you have a lot of affiliations on your resume, recruiters may view you as an overachiever. Consider including only the most relevant ones or splitting them into career-related and community-related categories.
List your publications in reverse chronological order. Only list those publications that relate directly to your career goal or the position you are applying for. Potential employers may attempt to track down your publication, so make sure the titles and your authorship are verifiable before including them.
Be prepared to provide references if requested. References are typically people who can verify your employment and vouch for your performance. A potential employer always thinks that a provided resume is up-to-date. If your references are not up-to-date when the resume is reviewed, your out-of-date list may harm your credibility or frustrate your recruiter.
Honors and Awards
Awards can tell a potential employer that previous employers or other organizations valued your accomplishments. The fact that you or your team received formal recognition for your efforts is a good indicator of your skills and work ethic.
Any information that does not fit in the other resume subject areas but is worth highlighting for a recruiter because of its relevance to the position or because it helps you stand out as a qualified candidate can go in this catch-all area.
Source: VA for Vets
Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans