Military Connection: Memorial Day 2014: By Joe Silva

Memorial Day 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014 is Memorial Day. For many Americans, it will be just another day. For many it will be a day off  work to host or attend a barbeque, a picnic or gathering. For some, it may mean a parade or event that honors the sacrifices made by members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Many people will take special care to acknowledge the Veterans they know, and thank them for their service to their country. But as you celebrate this Memorial Day, please keep in mind what this national holiday is all about.

Memorial Day honors the two and a half million Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Guardsmen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country since the Revolutionary War. It is a day to remember the men and women who never made it home, so that others could survive. It is a day to remember and honor the dead.

Traditional observance includes raising the United States flag to half-staff in the morning to honor the men and women who have died in military service to the United States of America, but also raising the flag to full-staff at noon for the remainder of the day.

The reason that the flag is raised at noon is to symbolize the resolve of the survivors and those who are left behind, and to not let the sacrifices made by the fallen to have been made in vain. Americans should remember the heroes that perished in war, and remember to live their lives to the fullest because of the sacrifices made by others.

So please, thank Veterans and service members every day, and in every possible way that you can. But be sure, this Memorial Day, to take a moment to remember the service members who never returned home to become Veterans. And spend your Memorial Day honoring these brave men and women by living a good and charitable life.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Memorial Day 2014: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Obama Speaks About VA: By Debbie Gregory

Obama speaks VA

On May 21, 2014, President Obama held a press conference, addressing the nation in regards to the accusations of misconduct within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. This was the first occasion where the president addressed the accusations against the VA directly with the press.

The president said that he had met with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, and discussed issues of allegations of misconduct at VA healthcare system, and  improving healthcare for our nation’s Veterans and their families.

The president referred to Veterans and their families as the best that our country has to offer. The president said that these men and women have done their duty and ask for nothing more than what was promised. That being that we uphold our sacred trust to care for those who have served in the military.

The president said that in in his discussion with Secretary Shinseki, he was clear that anyone in the VA found guilty of misconduct will be held accountable, and that there are already VA personnel who have been put on administrative leave due to the initial investigations into the VA healthcare system.

Many Americans, especially Veterans, who have been watching the drama with the VA healthcare system accusations play-out, want quick and definitive action. But the president asked that the American people allow for a full investigation to take place so that the real root of any problems in the VA healthcare system can be found and permanently corrected.

President Obama said that he ordered Secretary Shinseki to conduct an investigation into the accusations of nation-wide misconduct, so that the president could be made aware of the “full scope” of the problem. According to President Obama, Secretary Shinseki is scheduled to update the president with his preliminary results next week. The president said that he also directed Mr. Nabors to conduct a broader investigation of the Veterans Health Administration, the component of the VA that delivers healthcare to Veterans. He said that he wants to know what is working and what is not working in order to improve Veteran care.

The president noted that Veterans shouldn’t become a “political football,” and that caring for Veterans should be an issue where Democrats and Republicans work together. The president again urged the nation to wait for all of the facts to be collected, amid all of the accusations.

The president also said that he believes that there are many employees throughout the VA that are hard-working individuals who truly do a great job for Veterans. He hopes that if any of the allegations are true, the people responsible will be punished for their misconduct.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Obama Speaks About VA: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Give Airmen A Break? By Debbie Gregory

air force break

The United States Air Force (USAF) recently announced that it will be trying out their own version of a Career Intermission Program, similar to the program that the U.S. Navy has already been testing.

The USAF is planning to launch the pilot program at the end of 2014. Under the Career Intermission Pilot Program, active-duty Air Force personnel will be placed in the Individual Ready Reserves, for up to three years, while they work on their own personal, academic or career goals.

Officers or Airmen, both male and female, who wished to start a family or complete an academic goal can apply for the program and be given up to three years away from active duty. For the first year, the Air Force will permit 20 officers and 20 enlisted to take part in the program.

The Navy has been running its own Career Intermission Program (CIP) since 2009. Every year, the Navy selects 20 officers and 20 enlisted and allow them up to three years on the Individual Ready Reserve. While on the reserve status, Navy personnel are not required to drill or physically muster, only remain within physical and legal eligibility, according to Navy standards.

Participants in the Navy’s CIP are not eligible for full pay, but do receive their full medical/dental benefits, and a tiny monthly stipend that is equal to two times 1/30 of their base pay. During this status the time does not count towards retirement, computation of total years of commissioned service, or high-year tenure limitations. CIP participants are also required to extend their service by a ratio of two to one for every month that they are out. So for a service member that uses CIP for three years, will have to extend their active duty time by six years when they return.

The USAF has not stated the full terms of their Career Intermission Program yet, but most likely, it will be very similar to the Navy’s. The Air Force has already said that this program is not for everybody, only for a select group of officers and Airmen with very high potential.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Give Airmen A Break? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: “Helping” Veterans: By Debbie Gregory

Helping Veterans

By Debbie Gregory

Americans can’t hear or see the news these days without encountering a plea to support our nation’s Veterans. The message that Veterans are unemployed and need your help has been one of the most common. While it is true that Veterans statistically have high unemployment and would greatly benefit from the public’s assistance with finding employment, Veterans aren’t looking for a handout.

Current service members and Veterans belong to a fraternity of some of the most capable individuals in the country. These men and women have been tested and proven in training, in the gym, in the classroom, on the field, and on actual deployments in combat scenarios.

Veterans do not want the public to just hire them for jobs, simply because they used to wear a uniform. Veterans do not want employment where they can’t earn sustainable income for their families. Veterans don’t want pity, charity or menial employment. So what do Veterans want?

Veterans who spent several years maintaining their personal fitness, combat readiness and following/carrying out orders want a fair chance to earn a living that supports their families. Veterans want to be hired for these positions because they are recognized as the best candidates for the position.

Part of the fairness that Veterans want include employers’ acknowledgement of military training and service as viable work experience. Many Veterans have heard employers at interviews ask if they have any ‘real’ work experience.”

The truth is that service members, from each and every branch of service wear multiple hats. Veterans have had to fill a multitude of roles and responsibilities depending on their pay grade and military occupation. Most Veterans are accustomed to accomplishing tasks in a pre-set timeframe. Tasks from cleaning a work or living space to completing paperwork to taking an enemy position has been asked of today’s Veterans, and they are experts at mission accomplishment.

Veterans also have a leg up on their peers in delegation. While many non-Veteran employees might feel shy about tasking their subordinates and co-workers, Veterans can assign tasks with an experienced hand.

Furthermore, Veterans are highly experienced in making the most out of materials with little-to-no budget. GI know-how can be credited for a slew of innovations and inventions, and these common-sense applications should be put to use at every business.

So from now on, when you hear that Veterans are in need of your “help”, please do not apply the mental picture of a homeless person with an outstretched hand, asking for spare change. Please picture the more accurate portrayal of the capable soldier, returning home, just needing a fair shot at employment.

Veterans and employers looking to connect with each other should consider www.MilitaryConnection.com as the conduit to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: “Helping” Veterans: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: eBenefits Veterans Employment Center: By Debbie Gregory

eBenefits Veterans Employment Center

By Debbie Gregory

There’s a new online resource for Veterans and transitioning service members that could potentially eliminate the Veteran unemployment rate!

Recently, at an employment summit held at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the launch of the eBenefits Veterans Employment Center. This online tool was designed to connect U.S. military Veterans and spouses to employment and employers who recognize the value of these individuals as a member of their team.

The online resource allows users to search through thousands of job postings for positions throughout the country. Users can search for employment in private and public sectors using job titles, locations, and even by their military work experience. The eBenefits tool allows users to use a Military Skills Translator that shows them a list of skills that they may have gained skills in through their military experience. The translator will even connect Veterans directly to job postings that match their military skills. The site also offers its users a résumé builder that optimizes their noticeability to hiring managers. Users of the online Veterans Employment Center can use the site to connect to other valuable Veteran resources and services, including training and vocational resources, education and counseling, and information about disability and assistive technology.

A total of five federal agencies partnered to make the eBenefits Veterans Employment Center a reality. The VA, the DOD, the Department of Labor, the Office of Personnel management and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) all came together to improve employment prospects for Veterans and their spouses.

The Veterans Employment Center is the latest in a series of efforts designed to battle the unacceptable levels of unemployment for military Veterans and military spouses.

To access the Veterans Employment Center, go to www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs .Veterans should also be sure to browse job postings, benefits information and links to employment resources at MilitaryConnection.com

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: eBenefits Veterans Employment Center: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Military Connection Sponsors Mom Corps YOU: By Debbie Gregory

mom corps

Mom Corps is a professional staffing and career development firm that has connected working parents with professional employment since 2005. Mom Corps specializes in finding flexible, meaningful and profitable jobs.

Parents who attempt to enter or re-enter the workplace often struggle to find employment that is up to the standard of their education, experience and needs. Working parents who make their children priority one often feel forced to take jobs below their standards in order to be the parent that their child deserves.

No working parent has it harder than the military spouse. U.S. Military families are frequently relocated, around the country and around the globe. Military spouses, most of them mothers, are among the most underemployed demographic in the country.  In fact, 90% of military spouses are under employed, meaning that their current jobs are below the level their education and previous work experience qualifies them for. On top of underemployment, military spouses earn approximately 38% less than civilians in the same industry, and are 30% more likely to be unemployed than civilian mothers.

Mom Corps was founded by CEO Allison O’Kelly, the wife of a U.S. Army Infantry Officer. Mrs. O’Kelly, besides being a wife and mother, is also a CPA and Harvard MBA graduate. In fact, she held high level positions at Toys “R” Us, and “Big Four” auditor KPMG before she had children.

When O’Kelly returned to the corporate world as a mother, she found it difficult to maintain her former workload while still being a quality mom. After leaving her previous position to practice accounting on her own, she began outsourcing some of her practice’s workload to other mothers. Once O’Kelly saw how many working mothers, with educations and experience, were looking for professional careers that would allow them to raise families, she launched what would become Mom Corps.

Mom Corps has since evolved into an award-winning national talent acquisition and career development firm, connecting thousands of individuals to professional employment. Mom Corps allows its registered users to submit résumés for hundreds of flexible job openings, and search through job postings at no cost to the user.

Due to the overwhelming success of Mom Corps, O’Kelly has launched Mom Corps YOU (MC YOU), a member-only online resource that offers users an added edge over the competition. MC YOU supplies increased visibility to employers, early access to “hot jobs”, direct access to Mom Corps recruiters, access to discussion forums, extra resources (including ebooks, résumé templates and articles) and bi-weekly webinars, with advice and instruction covering every aspect of a working parent’s life.

MC YOU is normally offered as a paid membership service. Membership fees for most users are $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. But O’Kelly and Mom Corps are working with corporate sponsors to provide scholarships to Military spouses, providing them an annual membership to MC YOU at no charge.

MilitaryConnection.com is proud to announce sponsorship of the MC YOU Scholarship program. For more information about Mom Corps and MC YOU, including applying for scholarships or sponsorship opportunities, please visit http://www.momcorps.com/blog/blog/2014/05/18/militaryconnection.com-partners-with-mom-corps

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the Go-To site!

Military Connection: Iowa: A Haven for Veterans? By Debbie Gregory

Iowa

By Debbie Gregory

With the U.S. military trimming down towards peacetime numbers, approximately 200,000 Veterans and their families are starting their new lives each year. Across the country, Americans are taking steps to welcome our newest Veterans home. There are individuals, businesses, schools and communities that wish to draw Veterans to them and establish a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship with them.

This effort is occurring on the broadest scale in Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad has not been shy in his efforts to persuade Veterans to live and work in his state. In Branstad’s Condition of the State address this past January, the governor called for a comprehensive package of incentives to draw and keep Veterans in Iowa, as part of his Home Base Iowa initiative.

“Through their service, Veterans have already proven they share the values we hold dear as Iowans – hard work, leadership, and patriotism, among others. Home Base Iowa allows Veterans to find the right job for them in Iowa, and to become part of our communities,” Branstad said, as credited to the Iowa.gov website.

Senate File 303, also known as the Home Base Iowa bill, includes provisions for

  • State tax exemption for military retirement pay
  • Specialized Veteran licenses plates
  • Veterans preference for private employment,
  • Post-secondary education reporting for Veterans,
  • Adopting measures that will provide licenses and certifications for skills honed during military service
  • Appointing members to county Veterans commissions
  • A home ownership program
  • Eligibility for new Veterans for the civil service exam.

On April 28, Senate File 303 was passed by the Iowa House by a vote of 94-2.The only real complaint regarding the bill is that it does not provide for automatic, in-state residency for Veterans going to school in Iowa. However, Iowa already allows all Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to qualify for in-state tuition.

Iowa is not the only state to pass such laws, but they are one of the most vocal about providing a haven for Veterans to learn, work and live in their state. What is your community, business or state doing to benefit Veterans?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: A Veteran Haven? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: PTSD: How You Can Help: By Debbie Gregory

PTSD 5 20 14

By Debbie Gregory

Americans hear a lot about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More often, than not, they associate the disorder with Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. But people should know that PTSD can be caused by events other than warfare.

PTSD can be the result of experiencing any form of traumatic event. A car accident, robbery, a natural disaster, or any tragedy can cause the onset of symptoms.

After a traumatic event, it is common for people to experience symptoms that are the brain’s way of reacting to and coping with what was seen, heard, smelled, touched or remembered. These symptoms include unpleasant memories of the event, difficulty sleeping, and an increased level of anxiety. After most experiences, these responses go away with time. But if these reactions do not subside, or if they get worse, the person experiencing them may have PTSD.

Those suffering with PTSD can experience flashbacks to the event, especially on the anniversary of the event. They may also feel a sense of blame, increased anger, difficulty concentrating, increased substance abuse, and changes in their behavior. It is not uncommon for them to feel detached.

For all that we know about PTSD, specialists can’t clearly determine why some people suffer from PTSD, and others who experienced the same or similar events don’t. But variables have been known to contribute to the possibility of getting PTSD, including how close you were to what happened, if you were injured, how much or little control you felt, and how much support you received.

For the men and woman who live with PTSD, every day can be a struggle through unimaginable suffering. It is our duty as parents, children, siblings, cousins, friends, co-workers and countrymen to render assistance to PTSD sufferers in any way that we can.

The best way to help is by being informed. The VA offers a booklet entitled Understanding PTSD . While not specific towards Veterans with PTSD, the booklet can be used for anyone who wants to know more. The VA’s PTSD portal contains a wealth of information about PTSD, its causes, symptoms and how to seek assistance. Sharing the information might just save a life.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: PTSD: How You Can Help: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The Real VA: By Debbie Gregory

PACT_graphic

By Debbie Gregory

The VA has recently come under fire with allegations that have led some to call for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation. These allegations, many of them unsubstantiated, have been blasted across the media, causing many to harbor distrust for the VA.

In surveys taken by VA healthcare patients, Veterans indicated that they are more likely to recommend treatment at a VA facility than at non-VA facilities. This corresponds with the 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index, which reported that Veterans strongly endorse VA health care, with 91 percent offering positive assessments of inpatient care and 92 percent for outpatient care.

The VA is rapidly evolving to provide the best support and care to the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. One of the ways that the VA is working to improve quality care for Veterans and their dependents is the utilization of Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs).

PACTs were implemented by the VA in 2010 and are considered the cornerstone of the transformation initiative intended to streamline the way Veterans receive their healthcare.

A PACT is a team of healthcare professionals who work individually with Veterans to provide whole-person care and life-long health and wellness. Teams are comprised of a provider, a Registered Nurse care manager, a clinical associate, and an administrative associate. Clinical pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists, and behavioral health staff also work in support roles, as needed, in PACTs.

Since 2010, the number of VA primary care patients has increased 12%. But, mainly due to PACTs, the number of encounters with Veterans has increased by 50%.  Despite the increase of primary care patients, access to VA primary care has improved and the continuity of care is better.

Also, Veteran access to primary care during extended hours (non-business hours) has increased 75% since January, 2013. In fact, 78% of Veterans are able to see their own primary care provider for an appointment on the date they desire. And nearly 65% of Veterans requesting a same day primary care appointment with their personal provider are accommodated.

The VA is a very large government agency. There are many moving parts, with many opportunities for the ball to be dropped. There is room for improvement within the VA from the top to the bottom. But there is also a lot that the VA does that the media isn’t telling you.

For more information about PACTs or the VA healthcare system visit www.va.gov/health

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The Real VA: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The VA’s Valley Forge: By Joe Silva

Valley Forge

At Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the winter of 1777-1778, the Continental Army lost nearly 2,500 men. The Army, under General George Washington, lost these men due to exposure, starvation and disease. Several of the founding fathers wanted to remove Washington from his post. In fact, Washington’s fellow generals in the Continental Army did much to bring disfavor to their Commander-in-chief. There was a strong push by the Continental Congress to replace Washington with General Horatio Gates. When the congressmen came to inspect the conditions at Valley Forge, Washington addressed them directly:

“Whenever the public gets dissatisfied with my service…I shall quit the helm…and retire to a private life,” General Washington told the congressmen.

The ongoing struggles for embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki may look as bleak as Washington’s future did during that disastrous winter during the Revolutionary War. But when asked to resign, their responses had similar character. “Every day, I start out with the intent to provide as much care and benefits to the people I went to war with,” said Shinseki. When he was asked to resign as Secretary of the VA, Shinseki added, “I intend to continue this mission until I’m satisfied… either that goal or I’m told by the commander-in-chief that my time has been served.”

While Washington said he would bend only to the will of the people, Shinseki said that he would bend only to the will of the President. Both leaders refused to resign their posts, despite their unpopularity.

Besides being a retired four-star general and the former chief of staff of the U.S. Army, Shinseki is a combat Veteran and a wounded warrior. During one of two tours in Vietnam, Shinseki lost part of his foot after a landmine explosion. That led to the awarding of the first of Shinseki’s two Purple Hearts. So, some might say, Shinseki is not only the head of VA healthcare, he is also a patient. In this light, accusations of Shinseki could seem a little misplaced.

For those who don’t know, Valley Forge ended up being a rallying point for the Continental Army. Their universal struggle through the harsh winter instilled a confidence and unity in the Army that had not been present the previous fall. Of course, the Continental Army went on to defeat the “unbeatable” British Army.

Most people wouldn’t compare Shinseki to our nation’s founding father. But perhaps, much like what happened with Washington and his men at Valley Forge, Shinseki’s harsh trial could lead to an improved VA. Perhaps those who work within the VA medical system will come through bleak period with a better, clearer understanding of their mission, and those who they are serving.

Veterans gave some of the best years of their lives to serve our country, and they deserve the best in return for their sacrifices. We should all make sure that we have all of the facts, weigh them and then proceed accordingly to best support our Veterans through the VA.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The VA’s Valley Forge: By Joe Silva