Texas Continues to Deliver Resources Veterans Can Use for Their Startups

Texas Continues to Deliver Resources Veterans Can Use for Their Startups

When your service in the military ends, a big question then looms in front of you – what next? Many veterans embark on their new career, using the skills they learned in the service to land a job. Others use the opportunity to start that business they’ve always dreamed of.

Small business ownership is a great option for veterans, as it requires many of the skills you gained during your service, such as passion, leadership and ingenuity. Best of all, there are many resources available to veterans to help them start the business, especially if you live in a place like Texas. Here are just a few of the types of resources Texas provides to veterans looking to create a startup.

Learn How to Start a Business

As is often the case for both veterans and non-veterans alike, you have a strong desire to start a business, but you have no idea where to begin or how to do it. You feel like you’d be excellent at running a business once it’s started, but getting there is a mystery. Luckily, there are some great organizations that can provide all the information you need.

For example, there’s the Veteran Entrepreneur Program run by the Texas Veterans Commission. This program provides a ton of information and resources. They work with veterans along every stage of the startup journey, providing guidance wherever you may need it. They can also provide you with a “Veteran Verification Letter” for your business and put you in contact with other businesses owners in the area.

 Another option is the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), which also provides veterans with resources for starting their own business. This one is located in Edinburg, so perhaps it’s a little closer to home depending on where you live. But no matter what area of Texas you’re currently residing in, you can rest assured there is some program nearby that aims to help veterans learn how to start a business.

Get Help Winning Contracts

Once you have your startup running, you may need to secure some contracts. If you’ve never done this before, you may need some help learning not only about how it works, but about how you can win them. For this you can turn to a resource like The Angelina College Procurement Assistance Center. The ACPAC is a nonprofit that assists businesses in East Texas in securing contracts from government agencies. They provide workshops, counseling assistance, and much more. If you’re in the area, schedule an appointment and see how they can help you.

Make Connections

Another important aspect of running a successful business is forming connections with other business owners in the area. By networking and making connections with other business owners, you can find ways to improve your business and generate new customers. However, it’s not always easy to make these connections when you’re first starting out.

One way to start is by looking at organizations like The Texas Military Officers Association. This nonprofit is for current and veteran military officers who want to become business owners. They have monthly gatherings where the members can meet to discuss their business plans and make connections. This particular organization is located in the Austin area, but there are plenty of other ways to network throughout Texas.

Get Discounted Supplies

Finally, your business will need some supplies to operate. As a military veteran, you can get a discount at places like Office Depot and OfficeMax to help supply your business. If you need to set up an entire office space, there are other ways to get discount supplies.  For example, let’s say you wanted to install some cubicles in your new office space. According to ROSI Office Systems, a provider of used cubicles in Houston, you can “save up to 70% with used or remanufactured cubicles.” This is just another way that Texas businesses make it easy for veterans to get started on a tight budget.

Make the Most of Available Resources

Veterans are used to operating within a team. Once you leave the service, it’s important to remember that there is still a team of people you can rely on, especially when it comes to starting up a business in Texas. There are many organizations and non-profits standing by to provide you with all the assistance you could possibly need, from planning your startup to landing your first customers. So, once you decide that you want to start your own business, don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Make the most of the resources that are available to you, and before long you’ll have the small business you’ve been dreaming of.

4 Ways You Can Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

4 Ways You Can Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

Contributed by LA Police Gear

Veterans face a difficult task when returning to civilian life after a military career. Vets from the post 9/11 era have even more trouble with the transition to the civilian world than those of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

 

Finding a job outside the military world can prove frustrating because civilian employers translate military experience differently. A supervisor in the military may only qualify for an entry-level career or job in the civilian world. There’s a significant communication barrier as far as understanding what people in the military experience or what the job involves. Also, many veterans never learned the skills required to search for work. This problem alone often overwhelms veterans.

 

Let’s not forget that not everyone transitioning out of the military is healthy and able to find work. Injured veterans face many struggles because, when they come home, they can’t work. They face things like PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), mental health problems, and severe injuries such as the loss of limbs. There are resources and organizations that provide help for veterans, and even you can help them adjust to civilian life.

 

Why Veterans Find It Difficult to Transition to Civilian Life

Veterans often find that their civilian friends and family don’t understand what military life is like and the experiences they face. This barrier creates a large communication gap and the feeling of loneliness.

 

Returning to family roles is hard. Vets must re-integrate into the household and re-develop their role in the family. 

 

In the service, the military provides everything you need, such as shelter, clothing, food, and other necessary items. They even have schedules for everything in your life like work, mealtimes, and sleep. Transitioning back into the civilian world means that the veteran has to furnish all of those necessities not only for themselves but often for their family as well. This situation can be truly distressing.

 

When it comes to work, the civilian world is tremendously competitive. In the military, you’re trained to work as a team, but, in the private sector, people focus on getting themselves ahead instead of working together as a team. Teamwork is such a massive foundation to military success that veterans find the extreme competitiveness selfish and unfit for the greater good of everyone.

 

Help for Veterans

Many organizations exist that provide support for veterans, and there are ways you can help as well. Here are some ways to help veterans.

 

https://image.shutterstock.com/image-photo/assistance-dog-trained-aid-assist-450w-444424942.jpg

 

Sponsor a Companion Animal for Vets with PTSD

Over one-third of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans experience PTSD. Managing PTSD is not just difficult for the vets but for their friends and family as well. It’s hard to deal with the ghosts of war and military service. Companion dogs provide comfort and support.

 

There are programs where donors can sponsor a K9 and receive updates about the dog’s life with its veteran and their family, as well as its training. By sponsoring a dog, you’re saving the life of the dog and a veteran.

 

K9s For Warriors provides highly trained service dogs to military veterans to help them recover and heal from both emotional and physical scars. Sponsorship includes training the dog to be a service K9, training materials, equipment, and medical care.

 

Help Homeless Veterans

It’s heartbreaking that so many of our military heroes end up jobless and on the streets. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ started the Stand Down Program to help homeless veterans battle street life. 

 

The program was named after the military term “stand down,” which applied to exhausted combat military units that were taken off the field of battle to “stand down” in a secure place where they could rest. 

 

This program consists of one- to three-day events that provide health screenings, shelter, clothing, and food to unemployed and homeless veterans fighting a different kind of war for survival on the streets. Contact your local VA hospital to find a Stand Down program close to you. If you know a homeless veteran or one at risk of homelessness, contact 1-877-4AID-Vet to find them help through Veterans Affairs. Despite how it may seem, the VA does try to help as many homeless vets as possible.

 

Build a Home for an Injured Veteran

There’s a fantastic program called Building Homes for Heroes that constructs homes specifically modified for severely injured vets who want to live independently. Injured veterans need a safe place to live that accommodates their physical injuries. The greatest part of the program is that the veteran doesn’t have to pay anything for the home. Building Homes for Heroes also provides help with financial planning.

 

Organizations that Provide Help for Veterans

Here are some other organizations that help vets

 

 

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

 

Founded in 2004, this organization realized there was a considerable gap between public perception and what was actually happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. No one wanted to acknowledge what soldiers experienced and dealt with. Their mission is to educate veterans on healthcare, mental illness, GI Bill benefits, and more, as well as connect them with other vets.

 

IAVA is a broad network of post 9/11 VEOs (veteran empowerment organizations). They also work with elected officials to ensure that vets aren’t ignored and they receive the care that they deserve. 

 

 

  • Wounded Warrior Project

 

This organization connects injured veterans with many programs that help them transition to the civilian world. They understand that each vet faces their own unique challenges when leaving military life behind. A couple of these programs are Physical Health and Wellness and The Combat Stress Recovery program. 

 

Other organizations include:

 

  • National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)
  • American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • AMVETS
  • America Wants You
  • Veterans Support Organization (VSO)
  • VetJobs
  • USO
  • Vista College
  • GI Bill

 

https://image.shutterstock.com/image-photo/closeup-rusty-dog-tag-text-450w-745590250.jpg

 

If you have a veteran in your life, show them your appreciation with a high-quality LAPG military gift. LAPG also has some excellent selections of holiday gear.  Remember, we should be honoring our military veterans and not ignoring their plight.  

 

Meta Data: Our military veterans come home battle weary and mentally worn down. Many find the transition to civilian life extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can help a vet, as well as organizations that provide support in a variety of ways.

 

5 Survival Tips for Transitioning Your Kids to College

5 Survival Tips for Transitioning Your Kids to College

It’s that time of year again – the Back to School lists are published, supply shopping has begun and for many parents, a big step is looming – when your child is ready to leave the nest and head to college for the first time. For military parents, this can be a complete flip of how most of your life as a parent has gone. If you have been in the active duty, you have been the one to pack your bags and head off for months at a time. While you might be accustomed to not seeing your child every day, are you ready for that child to have all of the adventures away from you? Are you concerned with how you will handle it when the tables are turned? You aren’t alone! Read on for 5 easy tips that just might ease your child’s college transition!

Why is A Successful Transition Important? 

Let’s be honest – this is an exciting transition for them, but a terrifying one for you! As excited as you might be for your child to make this next step, it is new. It is likely the biggest adjustment you have faced as a parent since the day you brought your precious bundle home. You have already done all of the “big” things – like paying the deposit to secure their spot and starting tuition payments, but there are many little things that go into this transition as well. The successfulness of this time period sets the stage for the next four years! Approximately 25% of college enrolled freshmen withdraw before graduation. That number increases when the college attendee is the first in their family to go to college. Making the transition from live-at-home kid to independent-yet-still-attached college student smooth may help your child see their degree through to completion. 

 

#1: Set up a joint account that both you and your child have access to regularly

Keep the lines of financial dependence open…for now

 

Kids are expensive. From day 1, your precious angel has been costing you more money their you ever imagined. The needs have changed, however, and the cash flow is no longer going towards diapers and wipes. You shouldn’t be contributing cash towards a night out with friends or a new tattoo – however stressing over expenses that your child has never considered prior to now might encourage an early arrival home. For example, a simple sinus infection might be easily addressed at the school’s health center. If an antibiotic is needed, the stress of having to pay for needed medicine might stress your child more than ever. Parents need to remember that some of these things, which are completely commonplace in the adult world, are new and perhaps intimidating to the average college freshman. 

 

Opening a joint account not only gives you the capability to help your child when needed, it allows you a window into their day-to-day spending habits. With freedom comes responsibility and the combination can prove destructive without a guiding hand!

 

#2: Go through a list of some basic life skills that will come in handy

Adulting means taking care of your space, too!

 

Laundry. Grocery shopping. Vacuuming. Dusting. There are so many things you do on a regular basis to keep your house in order, and your child has likely taken them all for granted. Will they have access to a full kitchen at school? Or just a mini fridge and microwave? Do they know that even the minifridge needs to be cleaned out regularly? Have they explored the value of a vacuuming? Take the time to put together a list of your day-to-day chores and then look to see what your child has attempted before and what would be brand new. 

 

Odds are good that your child has had chores prior to now and that he or she knows how to take care of some basics around the dorm room. If you want to avoid an entirely pink wardrobe, it is worth the extra few minutes to make sure they know that red sweaters can’t be washed with the white t-shirts and socks!

 

#3: Make their room a home

Remind your child that home is their favorite place.

 

Does your child have a favorite blanket that she uses whenever she sits on the couch? A mug that he drinks soup out of whenever he is feeling under the weather? If you can’t part with the original, try to find a similar replicate to send with your child for when he or she needs the “comforts of home.” If you have traveled for active duty, there might be items of significance that your child has held onto over the years. Make sure those things are there and providing the same comfort they did when you waved goodbye to your 6-year-old. Most college dorms don’t allow things like candles – but if you have particular scents around your home, look for flameless alternatives that will produce the same familiar and comforting scent. 

 

This is likely their first home away from home, at least for an extended period of time. For military kids whose parents deploy, the sense of comfort might not always be with the parent, but with items that remind the child of their parents.

 

#4: Insurance provides peace of mind

You just never know what might go wrong…

 

Health insurance – keep your child on your health insurance plan as long as possible. Odds are good that your plan, whether it is TRICARE or something else, is better than anything they might have access to on their own. Health insurance is the big one that usually comes to mind – but is your child taking a car on campus? Is that campus in another state? You might want to check with your car insurance provider as well. Additionally – having your child out of the house for months at a time might actually save you some money! Other insurances to think about are things like phone and laptop insurance. Crazy things can happen in a college dorm room, and a $150 to replace a phone or laptop is far more affordable than a new device! 

 

#5: Remember what made you happy

It will likely make your child happy too!

 

Did you love getting care packages when you were deployed? Cards with little love notes from your child? Cookies baked with love? Necessities that were abundant at home but scarce overseas? Your child might find him or herself in the same boat! Care packages make even the worst day a little brighter. Remember: on a college  campus, nothing is sacred. If you are sending cookies, school supplies or candy – make sure you send enough to share! 

 

The little touches of home remind your child that you care and can help combat homesickness. 

 

And Finally…

 

College is a big deal. It is just as big of a change to you, your spouse, your household and your child as the day you brought that baby home from the hospital! There will be days when you want to drop kick your soon-to-be college freshman all the way to that dorm room – and there will be days when you want to just hold him or her and never let go. All of those emotions are normal, expected and necessary! Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart – and sometimes, neither is childhood!

 

A Guide to Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life

A Guide to Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life
Contributed by LA Police Gear

According to the Department of Defense, about 1,300 military members transition out of military careers and into civilian life each year, and studies show that nearly two-thirds of them reported that the transition was difficult. Data points to a few different reasons for this—lack of resources for former soldiers, physical and emotional traumas relating to their time served, and the fact that businesses simply don’t seem to understand the needs of these uniquely skilled candidates.

If you’re planning on making the big transition, know one thing before all else: You’re not alone. While it may feel like it, there are a number of places you can, and should, look to for support. This will help you reintegrate into a civilian neighborhood, community, and job so you can set yourself up for a stable, successful life outside the service. We’re here to help you make the process move as smoothly as possible for our heroic American military members who are separating from the forces.

Leverage Your Resources
If you’re just beginning to toy with the idea of leaving your unit, it’s a good idea to seek advice and support from the professionals or those who have gone through this transition themselves. Some of the best places to look for assistance include:

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – The VA’s TAP program exists for the sole purpose of helping vets reintegrate into regular life. In practice, this means providing soldiers with the tools, training, and resources they need to find housing and work outside the military. Visit your local transition office to see what this program can do for you or use their online tools throughout the transition process.

Installation Briefings – Your installation should have occasional briefings to provide transitioning soldiers with advice and assistance before they re-enter civilian society. These briefings may offer tools on how to dress for interviews, use the internet for job-hunting, properly negotiate, etc. Your installation should also provide you and your spouse with one-on-one assistance for up to 180 days after discharge.

USAA Transition Checklist – The USAA has become much more than just a bank an insurer to military families. They also provide many vital skills to help aid in the transition. For example, they offer a useful step-by-step transition checklist that you can customize to meet your transition timeline, goals, and budget. The association also offers a separation assessment tool and savings options to help make the transition go as smoothly as possible.

Transition Assistance Organizations – In addition to VA-funded resources, there are also a number of independent nonprofits and groups that exist specifically for aiding military members during their transitional period. Here is a great list of some groups that do this kind of work. It includes many of the veteran’s organizations you’re already familiar with, including the American Legion, Wounded Warrior Project, and the USO.

Vets Who Have Made the Transition – While you’re still living on base and surrounded by military members, try to connect with one or two vets who have recently made the transition. They, most likely, will be much more aware of the immediate challenges, tricks, and resources than anyone who works for the above programs. You can even do this online through digital military mentorship programs like Veterati and eMentor.

Leverage Your Skills
As a member of the armed forces, you undoubtedly learned many unique skills that prepared you for your next endeavor. Teamwork, preparedness, strategic thinking, problem-solving, physical strength—these are all in your wheelhouse, and employers will be able to put them to good use.

Consider WARTAC – The Warrior Training Advancement Course (WARTAC) is a collaborative program between the VA and the Department of Defense that exists to train transitioning warriors to work for the VA, primarily processing disability claims. Though this may not serve your long-term career goals, it can certainly provide you with some solid, stable work while you’re easing back into civilian life or while you’re doing job training or taking college classes.

Get Your VMET – Your Verification of Military Experiences and Training (form DD 2586) serves as an overview of your entire military career and training record, complete with any specialty training, awards, and certificates. You should have this on hand, alongside your DD 214, to add to your resumés, job applications, and online job sites. The TAP can help with obtaining these documents if you don’t have them on hand.

Play Up Your Experience – Even though it may not seem like your intrepid military skills would be considered desirable in a typical civilian work environment, such as in an office, the traits you’ve honed while in the service are extremely attractive to most employers. Be sure to make your military service—and the skills you gleaned from it—the crown jewel of your resumé. Just make sure not to lay the military jargon on too thick in a way that’s alienating to potential employers.

Go for Military-Friendly Fields – Inherently, some fields of work are much friendlier to vets than others. For example, many members of the military transition directly into law enforcement—about 19 percent of police officers served—and first response work. Though the police gear and tactical skills required for the job definitely cross over from one field to another, there are differences to consider. What’s more, veterans should have an in-depth psychological evaluation before entering this field, as the high-stress nature could re-trigger certain traumas.

Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier
Many veterans struggle with their identities when they leave the armed forces. One thing that’s important to remember when you take this big leap is that, just because you’re no longer considered active duty, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer a soldier. Your time served was not in vain, especially if you use everything you learned to set yourself up for the post-service life you’ve always wanted. Ideally, the skills and experiences you took from your service will propel you to exciting new avenues in civilian life.