Hire Vets Act Passes with Budget Bill

Hire vet act

By Debbie Gregory.

In what can only be called a great step forward in making sure that veterans are assisted in securing great jobs, California Republican Rep. Paul Cook’s “HIRE Vets Act” was signed into law.

The bill passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly in February and passed the Senate on unanimous consent in March. Rep. Cook had reintroduced this bipartisan bill earlier this year.

HR 244, Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 is designed to promote the recruitment, hiring and retaining of veterans in the corporate sector.

“Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices,” said Rep Cook.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a two-tiered system, Gold and Platinum, associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

While the bill does not address recruitment, hiring or retention of disabled veterans, it is a step in the right direction.

Each year, nearly 200,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life. The HIRE Vets Act would recognize qualified employers for meeting certain criteria designed to encourage veteran-friendly businesses.

“Our military men and women have the skills and experience that are an asset to employers in every sector of our economy,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R.MO), a member of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Seal Accused of Child Molestation


By Debbie Gregory.

We consider Navy SEALs to be honorable and to be among our heroes. They perform super missions for American putting themselves at extreme risk.  However, we live in a less than perfect world, and there are some very disturbed people in it.  It is with a heavy heart that Military Connection reports this story.  We must all remember that by and large, the members of the Navy SEALs go to extraordinary lengths to protect our nation, and not allow one sick person to harm the high regard Americans hold for them.

SEAL Team One Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Kyle Seerden, 31, was arrested in San Diego by federal marshals. Seerden is accused of filming himself molesting a sleeping girl and raping a woman in Virginia.

The alleged crimes “involved a prepubescent minor who had not attained the age of 12” when the acts purportedly took place about three months ago, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.

Agents investigating the reported rape of an unconscious Virginia woman, identified only as Jane Doe, uncovered the child sex crimes after a three-month investigation.

Doe accused Seerden of raping her January 27 after she blacked out after drinking with Seerden in his hotel room aboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek- Fort Story, where he was on a temporary assignment.

He also kept a stash of child porn on his cellphone. NCIS agents investigating the accusations secured authorization to search Seerden’s iPhone 7, allegedly finding dozens of images of girls and boys engaged in sex acts on the device

Seerden faces felony child pornography and child sex assault charges in Virginia following the investigation by Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Norfolk field office. If convicted, the mandatory minimum sentence for the charges is 15 years in prison.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Accused of Executing Therapy Dog Found Dead


By Debbie Gregory.

Marinna Rollins, an Army veteran who was accused of tying her dog to a tree and shooting it to death, all while videotaping it and later posting it on Facebook, has died of an apparent suicide.

Rollins’ death came nine days before she was scheduled to appear in a Fayetteville, NC courtroom to face charges of felony cruelty and conspiracy charges.

Rollins was charged along with her boyfriend, Jarren Heng, who serves in an Army Special Operations Command unit.

The pair were arrested, placed in jail, but later released on $25,000 cash bail each. Their court date was set for May 16.

In January of 2015, Rollins experienced a traumatic event that forced her return to the U.S. after serving just four months in South Korea. During this period, Rollins was diagnosed with a series of mental disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar disorder. She was later medically discharged

The dog had belonged to Rollins’ estranged husband, Matt, who asked Rollins to look after the dog while he was stationed in South Korea.

Matt got into an argument with Rollins after she “switched Huey’s microchip from my name to her name and that she ‘registered’ him as her Emotional Support Animal,” despite the fact that all the adoption paperwork was in Matt’s name.

Matt was forced to wait to deal with the situation until he returned to the U.S.

When Matt returned home, he was working on finding someone to take care of Huey until he could take him back.  Then he noticed Rollins had posted on social media that Huey was being put up for adoption. But the situation was far worse.

“They had already killed him,” Matt said.

Apparently, Heng hated the dog.

“I think he convinced Marinna to get rid of Huey,” Matt said.

Rollins and Heng had driven to a remote wooded area where they tied the dog to a tree. Rollins shot the dog five times in the head while Heng videotaped the killing. Heng also shot the dog five times with a rifle.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Calling All Doctors!

army medical command

By Debbie Gregory.

The Army Wants You!  The United States Army Medical Command is aggressively recruiting physicians and reaching out to medical schools.   The Army Medical Command has used the online recruitment advertising services of MilitaryConnection.com in the past.   One of our major areas of focus is healthcare recruitment including doctors and psychiatrists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and all types of allied healthcare professionals.

Military Connection has been named a Top 100 Employment Web Site for six years and is well respected within the military and veteran communities.   We have a significant reach with robust traffic, a database of hundreds of thousands of emails and almost 700,000 combined fans and followers on social media.  We offer many effective online recruitment advertising options for both civilian healthcare professionals and military healthcare professionals.

The Army offers the opportunity to not only serve your nation with critical life-saving skills across the globe, but also outstanding benefits.   One benefit may include the opportunity to get out from under student loans.   With medical school being so expensive, this potential benefit holds a great deal of appeal to doctors and medical students alike.

For more adventurous doctors, the Army offers the opportunity for adrenaline-seeking surgeons to jump out of an aircraft and perform surgeries in the middle of a combat zone.

Army leaders are encouraging premedical school students and medical residents to consider careers in the Army. There are more than 90 medical concentrations in the Army, including trauma life support, head and neck specialists, and preventative medicine.

Fort Bragg’s 44th Medical Brigade is a small surgical team that has the ability to mobilize and deploy within 18 hours.

They can perform as many as 30 surgeries in three days.

The Army allows greater career diversity, including research opportunities, said Lt. Col. Kevin Smith of the 2nd Medical Recruiting Battalion.

Smith emphasized that the active-duty component needs emergency physicians, family medicine physicians, general surgeons and psychiatrists.

“You can’t always evacuate a soldier, Smith said. “You need to be able to treat them on the battlefield.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Resources for Veteran Business Owners

vet owned

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veterans exhibit advanced team building skills, high levels of resiliency and strong organizational commitment, traits that contribute to making them successful entrepreneurs. There are numerous resources that assist veteran business owners thrive, including the following:

VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, is a non-profit trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners by providing networking, collaboration, mentoring, education, certification and advocacy. Membership is free.

American Corporate Partners is engaged in national corporate career counseling for returning military. The non-profit connects veterans to business leaders for mentorship and career advice.

BusinessUSA provides users with an interactive questionnaire that guides them to the most relevant federal, state, and local services, tools, trainings, and opportunities, assisting in starting or expanding a veteran owned small business.

DVBE, the Disabled Veteran Business Alliance, empowers, provides resources to, and works side-by-side with disabled veterans to promote and support them in establishing, maintaining and growing viable business enterprises.

EBV Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities offers training in entrepreneurship and business management to post-9/11 veterans with service related disabilities.

Federal Business Opportunities is a portal for all businesses, not just vet owned, looking for active federal contracting opportunities.

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. provides resources such as grants, scholarships and a fellowship program to veteran entrepreneurs, designed to build leadership qualities.

Institute for Veteran and Military Families provides a wide variety of resources geared towards military veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.

National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)  is the nation’s leading third party authority for certification of veteran owned businesses of all sizes.

National Veteran Small Business Coalition supports veteran owned small businesses by promoting policies that encourage participation of veteran owned businesses in federal contracting opportunities.

Patriot Boot Camp  focuses on helping active duty military, veterans and their spouses build technology companies. The three day event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.

Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a multitude of assistance to veterans in their local communities, including Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Boots to Business,

SDVOSBC , the National Center for Veterans Institute for Procurement, Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), and Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) .

Streetshares brings together business owners in search of funding and investors looking for both financial and social returns.

21 Gun Salute Initiative supports service-disabled veteran owned businesses with the goal of reserving 3% of contracts for service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.

VetBiz is a VA website that provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s verification process for veteran owned businesses looking to gain eligibility for the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

VetBizCentral is a veteran run site that assists veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services, from business education to financing opportunities.

Veteran Fast Launch Initiative provides mentoring and training, along with free software and other services, to military veteran entrepreneurs.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship  provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.

Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring services to help veteran entrepreneurs with everything from contractor registration to website creation.

Victory Spark is an accelerator program focused on startups led by U.S. military veterans. The program includes a 12-week mentor-driven Lean LaunchPad Program, along with grant funding for entrepreneurs who complete the program.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Works to Draw Reservists to Active Duty

army reserve

By Debbie Gregory.

Did you know that more than fifty percent of our fighting force now is comprised of National Guard and Reservists?  These are our citizen soldiers.  They make unique sacrifices because often times they don’t have the same support system for themselves and their families as active duty Army personnel stationed at a base.

The Army values these National Guard and Reservists and wants to draw more of them to active duty.

To that end, the Army has launched the Call to Active Duty program. The program allows Army Reserve and National Guard members in select grades and specialties to go on active duty.

“The Army looks to retain the talent, skills and experience of quality officers who are fit, resilient and ready to serve America’s Army,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Calloway, director, Officer Personnel Management Directorate at Human Resources Command.

According to the head of Army Human Resources Command, so far the Army has received approximately 1,000 applications.

Now the program has been extended to noncommissioned officers.

According to Maj. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army has received several thousand inquiries from the force about making the transition.

“I think our initial goal was a couple hundred, and the response has been pretty overwhelming,” he said.

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are contributing to this effort to grow the Army by 16,000 in the active force and 28,000 overall by Sept. 30th. Utilizing Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers taps in on the training and experience these troops already bring to the table.

Some of the perks being offered include two-year enlistments and enlistment bonuses, and re-enlistment bonuses to keep current soldiers.

Applications must be in by July 7th to give the Army enough time to process them by September.

“The packets we’ve seen are high quality packets,” Seamands said. “My guess would be the majority of the thousand will be approved to come on active duty.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Tapping Civilians with High Tech Skills


By Debbie Gregory.

High Tech Jobs for Civilians and High Tech Jobs For Military are in huge demand. Many civilians with high tech skills are taking a break from their private sector jobs to help America’s technological fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Pentagon has ramped up its efforts to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy’s communications, recruiting, fundraising and propaganda.

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, said that Guard and Reserve members need to step up their technical expertise in digital forensics, math crypto-analysis and writing computer code.

“I would like to know every single person that has been trained as a certified ethical hacker,” he said.

The Army Reserve is starting a pilot program cataloging soldiers’ talents. Among 190,000 Army reservists, Nakasone said there might be up to 15,000 with some type of cyber-related skills. But there are legal and privacy hurdles, and any database hinges on reservists voluntarily and accurately providing information on their capabilities.

“We are at the forefront of one of the most transformative times in our Army’s history, operating in a dynamic and challenging domain that is revolutionizing the way our Army fights and wins,” Nakasone said. “Our focus will be on defending our networks, data and weapons systems, delivering effects against our adversaries in and through cyberspace, and designing, building, deploying and integrating capabilities for the future fight, spanning cyberspace, electronic warfare and information operations.”

Nakasone said others in the civilian high-tech industry are interested in helping.

While the Army has to compete for talent  with the private sector, which pays vastly better and doesn’t send you to be shot at, the military offers other incentives.

Besides the call to service, there’s the opportunity to do things that cyber professionals can’t do in civilian life. Well, they could, but if they did, they could be arrested for doing so.

The United States military is the largest user of technology worldwide. Additionally, there is a huge demand for military high tech jobs in both the private and government sectors. Military high tech jobs and Veteran High Tech Jobs pay some of the highest salaries.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.



Congress May Start Charging Troops for their GI Bill Benefits

GI Bill

The Post-11 GI Bill has been the most valuable Veteran education benefit for those who serve in history. Billions of dollars have been paid in these veteran education benefits. Veteran students are provided thirty-nine months of tuition, a housing allowance that is equivalent to an E-5 with dependents for the zip code of the school that the student veteran is attending and a $1,000 stipend toward books and supplies..

A major revamping of Veteran education benefits is happening with $3 billion in new spending is planned over the next decade. It is being referred to unofficially by Veteran advocate organizations and congressional staffers as “GI Bill 3.0”.   Some of the components are quite controversial too.

The major issue of debate is charging new troops $2,400 making them essentially having to buy in to their GI Bill benefits.   This will also create two classes with some troops contributing and others not paying anything. Some Veteran advocates believe this plan amounts to a new tax on the lowest-paid service members.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn, introduced the bill, known unofficially as the “Lifetime GI Bill Act.” The bill also contains other changes to current Veterans education benefits. The bill would also expand eligibility for wounded troops, families of deceased service members, and some reservists currently excluded from the current benefits.

Veteran advocate groups are divided with some against this bill and additional costs to soldiers and others taking the position that it would improve and protect the education benefit over the long haul. Some feel that it would be harder to decrease these valuable Veteran education benefits if service members were paying into them and that having skin in the game might be an added incentive to those who use their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war, and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy .“Charging incoming troops is absolutely a deal-breaker,” one Washington, D.C.based Veterans’ advocate with knowledge of the effort said. “We’re not going to stand for them taxing troops for their benefits.”
This proposed legislation would deduct from new enlistees$100 from their basic pay each month for two years for a total of $2,400, for them to receive Veteran education benefits. It should be noted that the lowest paying soldiers would be the ones being charged. The Post-9/11 GI Bill created in 2009 does not require service members to pay into it, but an earlier version of the benefit, the Montgomery GI Bill mandated recipients to pay $100 per month for one year.
Student Veterans of America feels that paying in will protect Veterans’ education benefits. “It’s infinitely more difficult to get rid of or cut the GI Bill if troops have paid into that benefit,” said Will Hubbard, Vice President of Government Affairs for Student Veterans of America. “This is about how we can make the GI Bill protected and buffered against budget fights for years to come.”

This is a complicated and heated issue. Both sides have expressed arguments with merit. Tell us what you think by emailing us at: [email protected]

Running Back Soldier Trying to Return To Football


By Debbie Gregory.

Glen Coffee was a third-round pick in 2009. But after just one year in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, he abruptly retired.

“I was doing what the world expected me to do,” Coffee said.  “What my mom expected me to do and what my friends expected me to do.  All I had known was football.  My whole schedule was built around football.”

His rookie season Coffee battled it out on the gridiron. But it was nothing compared to the battle going on inside. So to ease his mind he threw himself into the lavish lifestyle of a pro athlete.

“So I got the money and I started to splurge just a little bit to try to catch a feeling, to find some happiness. I know money didn’t buy happiness but I was going to try to find something. There had to be a reason everybody’s chasing money. I could never find it. I’d buy this or get this, or have this, and it didn’t mean anything.”

In his lone season as a pro football player, Coffee put up decent numbers as a backup for Frank Gore. He ran for 226 yards on 83 carries, and added 76 receiving yards over 11 receptions. He found the end zone once.

Fast-forward seven years; after serving for the last four years with the Sixth Battalion of the Army Rangers, Coffee has filed for reinstatement. He is trying to make an unprecedented and unlikely comeback.

Now, out of the Army, Coffee wants to see if he can play football again. After he came out of retirement on April 21, the 49ers promptly waived their rights to his contract, making the soon-to-be 30-year-old a free agent. With a running back-rich NFL draft, it remains to be seen how much interest Coffee will garner on the free-agent market.

One advantage he may have? Serving in the Army has resulted in Coffee being in better shape than when he played football.

“My cardio and endurance is definitely a lot better right now,” he said. “Because in football, you’re not really in shape. People think you’re in shape, but you’re really not. Not like that.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Tips for Traveling on a Budget


Vacations are the best! But the high costs often associated with traveling? Not so much…

At Armed Forces Vacation Club, we believe that you shouldn’t have to break the bank just to enjoy a great vacation! We’ve put together a list of our favorite wallet-friendly travel tips to help you make the most out of your vacation without busting your budget.

Be flexible with your airfare

There are tons of tips out there on how to make the most of your dollars when it comes to flights, but we like to use the simple motto ‘be flexible’! When your travel plans permit, try to be flexible with your departure day, departure time and airport (budget airlines frequently fly out of regional airports). All of this flexibility can translate to big savings!

When you can, drive

Do you know the saying “explore your own backyard”? Well, we love it – and so will your wallet! Take advantage of drive-to destinations to help cut down on transportation cost. Make the most out of your travel days by planning fun stops along the way to try new foods, see new sites and more.

Take advantage of the “free”!

In virtually every destination, there are opportunities to do, see and experience things for free. Spend a little time researching your destination before you travel to find the best of the “free” – including museums, outdoor music concerts, tours and more. Helpful Tip: the Visitors Bureau can be a great resource to explore!

Use your credit card points

Let your purchases work for you! Many credit cards offer reward points for purchasing everyday items – groceries, gas, etc. Before you travel, redeem your points for gift cards to use toward meals, tickets and more throughout your vacation.

Use a guidebook

Trust us. Guidebooks have been valued travel companions for decades – and for good reason! They can help you find the best restaurant in your price range, provide you with suggestions for self-guided walking tours and so much more.

Looking for more tips on how to travel on a budget? Check out AFVC’s Traveling On A Budget article and more in the Vacation Planning Resource Center.

P.S. Don’t forget that Armed Forces Vacation Club offers free membership for all active duty, guard, reserve and retired members of the Armed Forces, as well as civilian employees of the DOD. Join today!