Veterans Home Care: Helping Veterans Get The Help They Need

Veterans Home Care: Helping Veterans Get The Help They Need

“When Bonnie Laderman found out that her mother, the widow of a Korean War veteran, had been missing out on a little-known government pension for decades, she was furious. Unfortunately, it was too late for Bonnie’s mom, but it is not too late for the wartime veteran in your life or maybe that veteran’s surviving spouse. Bonnie started a company to make sure that no one else would have to go through her anguish. This is the story of that company: Veteran’s Home Care.”

Hiring Veterans: Why Veterans Make Excellent Employees

Hiring Veterans: Why Veterans Make Excellent Employees

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Nearly a year ago, I posted one of my first blogs for Military Connection, one that had a focus on why employers should hire members of the military community. It was called “At Least Ten Reasons to Hire Veterans,” but by the time I reached the closing paragraph, I had parlayed that into 25 reasons. Although I didn’t want to just rewrite that original post, I did want to take a closer look at some of those elements on my list. If you’re an employer reading this, you either already ‘get it’ or maybe my words will encourage you to seek more Veterans for your open positions. If you’re a jobseeker with military experience, once again I encourage you to take inventory of the items on this list and use them to sell yourself…both on your resume and in the interview.

Across the various workforce development groups I’ve been a part of over the last ten years or so, my teammates and I have spoken to and worked with literally thousands of employers. When we’ve had those conversations, here are some of the reasons why Veterans make excellent employees…

Leadership experience. At the top of nearly every employer’s wish list is to on-board someone who can make a sudden and lasting impact on their workforce, someone who has already successfully held positions of leadership. If those positions happened to have involved troops, it might have ranged from leading just a few men and women in the early stages of a military enlistment, to serving at the helm of thousands of warriors near the end of one’s career. The successes and failures, and the subsequent growth from lessons learned, can help develop a maturity that’s hard to find. And those that have successfully led men and women in uniform haven’t always been at the top, so they usually have a keen ability to work as either a team member or a team leader…and they can give or follow directions, depending on the needs of the organization.

Performance under pressure. While I typically avoid blanket statements, I’m comfortable saying that everyone in uniform is trained to do their job under less-than-ideal conditions or in a ‘lives depend on it’ scenario. I’ve been in units that trained at every turn for their wartime mission, taking every opportunity to train in the dark, in the rain, in the cold, and without a second to spare. Every training event is essentially a rehearsal for an eventuality most of us pray will never come. A by-product of that training, for many, is the ability to work efficiently and diligently in a fast-paced environment. A sought-after skill for many hiring managers, for sure.

Strong work ethic. If there’s one attribute that employers seem to assign to military jobseekers more than any other, it’s this one. Whichever branch of service, in whatever part of the world…those in uniform know what hard work looks like. For some, the work ethic comes naturally; for others, it comes after being honed in countless situations and unforgiving conditions. In either case, a strong work ethic, coupled with systematic planning and organizational skills, can do wonders for a workforce.

Specialized, advanced training and technical skills. Whether hiring managers are looking for those with the latest training and certifications in IT or someone who has the transferable skills of a commercial truck driver or First Responder, the specialized job training that military schools provide are world-class. Regardless of the industry in which an employer’s open positions lie – transportation, logistics, intelligence, manufacturing, or any other – there are folks transitioning from active military service or still serving in the National Guard & Reserve that are ready to fill them.

Discipline, with a healthy dose of flexibility and adaptability. One definition of discipline is “training to act in accordance with rules.” Combine that with the ability to flex and adapt and you have a potential workforce all-star who can adjust and excel at whatever the corporate environment throws their way.

Attention to detail. Long considered a hallmark of military Veterans from every branch of service, detail-oriented employees are also on most employers’ wish lists. That soft skill – being able to spot whether things are as they should be or corrections are needed – is one that comes more naturally the more it’s put into practice. It also often comes with a host of similar traits, such as a commitment to excellence, a history of meeting standards of quality, and a respect for procedures and accountability.

So there starts another list…one that goes into just a little more detail about why Veterans make excellent employees. To all you small business owners and hiring managers out there, I highly encourage you to connect with job-seeking Veterans (and those Military Spouses, too) for your open positions…you’ll be glad you did.

Until next time…

Common Challenges to a Smooth Civilian Transition

Common Challenges to a Smooth Civilian Transition

 

Transition. According to Dictionary.com, it can be used as a noun or a verb, but in most cases it’s the “movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc. to another.” According to most of us that have worn the uniform recently, however, it means that we have taken that monumental step of separating from the military. And while the objective is usually to have a smooth-as-velvet transition, there always seems to be…challenges…to that goal.

 

For the rest of this post, I’m just going to pontificate on a few of those challenges, from my point of view. Many of you know that my perspective is that of a 30-year Army guy, but it’s also one that’s been influenced by dear friends from every branch of the Service. Some of these challenges were faced head-on by many of the strongest-willed men and women I know – with equal parts success and struggle.

 

And the point of a blog post like this one? Well, it’s doubtful you’ll have the ‘a-ha’ moment you’re looking for or have a revelation to put your struggle into deeper meaning…but maybe you’ll come to the realization that there are loads of warriors out there with the same struggles as you and I. And sometimes it’s good to reflect on the challenges…to a smooth transition…that we have in common.

 

Challenges within ourselves. Some of our biggest challenges during the transition from active duty to the civilian sector are internal. How we feel, how we cope with the change, how we internalize things…can have a tremendous impact on our new reality. Some of us feel the loss of our sense of purpose. Some struggle with no ‘command structure’ in place to help hold them accountable. Others feel like everything is so boring or ‘blah’ and miss the adrenaline rush that comes with certain assignments. And many of us feel isolated or alone, even when surrounded by family and friends with whom we’re desperately trying to reconnect.

 

Challenges with employment. Even if we qualify for an active duty retirement or VA compensation, most of us will be looking for our next job. And for sure, the job search can be traumatic enough, even if you’re not transitioning from military service. How a jobseeker goes about finding a job has undoubtedly changed…if you’re looking for your next job, you’ll have to craft resumes and cover letters, navigate applicant tracking systems, and deal with interviewers and talent managers. If you’ve already transitioned from the Service to a civilian employer, there’s a good chance you had to start a rung or two down the corporate ladder from where you should have been able to start, and you’re finding that often promotions come at a different pace and may be few and far between. Finally, if you’re a traditional National Guardsman or Reservist coming off a deployment and returning to your previous employer, you’ll probably face your own unique challenges with your old position, your team at work, and your supervisor. That’s a whole other topic in itself, and one we’ll cover later this year.

 

Challenges, period. If you aren’t wrestling with your own internal concerns and you have the job thing all figured out, consider yourself lucky (and maybe even among the fortunate few). But that doesn’t mean you won’t face other, just as stressful, challenges. Things you’ll need to take care of won’t be free, and often we underestimate the costs of transition. There’s a decent chance you’ll have to figure out who provides the services you’ll be using, from health care to child care and everything in between. You may still have bouts of post-traumatic stress or depression, for the simple fact that you’re in transition from military service means you’re moving on from one of the most impactful, stressful, demanding, and rewarding journeys a person can take.

 

At the end of the day, most of my colleagues just assume that this transition will be challenging, but it’s hard to predict how so. The transition between ‘military life’ and ‘life after military life’ will be different for everyone…different for retiring 40-somethings than for 20-somethings getting out after their first or second tour.  What are some things you can do? Take advantage of the DoD’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and get smarter on those subjects that will impact you. During the transition, make sure you eat well, get plenty of rest & exercise, and plan your approach to this next stage of your life. Be your own advocate and reach out if you need a hand with the transition – to a battle buddy, a Vet Center, the VA, or a Veteran Service Organization. Until next time…

 

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for VA Dental Care Benefits?

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for VA Dental Care Benefits?

Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)

 

Affordable dental care is a right that everyone deserves. It is critical to total mind and body health, and some dental injuries can lead to bloodstream infections and worse. The hard part of today’s society is that dental care goes overlooked by a lot of people. Many don’t think they need it, but a lot of times, people just can’t find it affordably! 

 

It can be especially difficult for veterans to find dental care when they need it. Not all veterans are eligible for this care, and the language is very technical and convoluted when it comes to who gets care and who does not. This makes it hard for them to get the help they deserve. 

 

I understand this frustration because I have experienced it myself first hand. Before I established my own practice, I served as a dental officer in the Navy. Now, I have over 20 years of specialized experience that I want to share with veterans so they can understand their dental benefits and find the treatment they need. 

 

One of the ways that I do this is by trying to make the convoluted information much easier to understand. I want veterans to understand their rights, and know their options in case they don’t qualify for dental care. No one should go without proper dental care in this country, especially not the people who serve it. 

 

Who is eligible for dental care? 

There are 9 different classes of eligibility when it comes to dental care benefits for veterans. Although many people have endeavored to make this easier through their veterans benefits guides, it can still be difficult to navigate these classes. I have stripped away the convoluted language to make them very easy to understand. 

 

Class I

Anyone with a dental disability or condition covered through a connected service is eligible for the necessary dental care of this disability and condition. 

 

Class II

Anyone who did not receive a full dental examination and any appropriate treatment upon learning the results of the examination is eligible for one-time care with their unsigned DD214 Certificate of Discharge. 

 

Class IIA

Anyone who can provide and maintain a dentition that is fully maintained, as with Dental Trauma Rating 10-564-D, that also has a noncompensable dental condition or resulting disability as a direct result of their time spent in service is eligible for necessary dental care as determined by the VA Regional Office Rating Decision. 

 

Class IIB

Anyone who is enrolled under VHA Directive 2007-039 as a care receiving or homeless veteran, and who has a medically necessary procedure that will treat gum conditions, relieve pain, or assist with obtaining gainful employment may be eligible for a one-time care to correct this problem. 

 

Class IIC

Anyone who was ever made a prisoner of war is eligible for any necessary dental care. 

 

Class IV

Anyone who has a disability that rates 100% on the disabling scale that occurred during your time of service is eligible for the necessary care and relief. Unemployed and unpaid veterans who are unemployed or unpaid as a direct result of this disability also qualify. 

 

Class V

Any veteran who can meet the criteria of their 38 USC Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation program while participating in it is eligible for necessary dental work. 

 

Class VI

Anyone who is currently receiving, or scheduled to receive, inpatient care of any kind that would be adversely affected or complicated because of an oral condition is entitled to the necessary dental care to treat the potential complication before receiving that inpatient care. A VA dental professional can make that assessment. 

 

Further questions can be addressed directly with the  US Department of Veteran Affairs. Their website has extensive information and contacts for local offices who can better assist you in navigating your rights. 

 

What if I don’t qualify for those benefits?

There are some options available for people who don’t qualify for direct VA benefits. Don’t lose hope because the  National VA Dental Insurance Program will still provide dental insurance to veterans through their Civilian Health and Medical Program. This works like regular dental insurance (with a copay and monthly payments) but it is drastically discounted in an effort to make it affordable for veterans. This program includes surgery, restoration, emergency, and preventative care as well as endodontics. 

 

What if I can’t afford that program?

If you still haven’t found a solution that works within your capabilities, there are still a lot of resources available. Many dentists are former servicemen, just like myself. Because they empathize first hand, they have begun offering free dental care to veterans. Those who don’t usually offer drastically discounted rates and payment options that work within your budget. 

 

Everyone deserves affordable dental care. It can be extremely frustrating to know that you are ineligible for benefits, but don’t give up because there are tons of people who want to help the veterans who sacrificed so much in service to their country.  

 

How to Connect With Military Members as a Business Owner

Like any other market demographic, connecting with military members as a business owner requires a tailored approach. Any time you’re targeting a specific audience, it’s important to think about the steps you’ll take to attract that audience. If you’ve been a member of the military, then you have the upperhand: you know what it takes to attract a customer like you. But with no knowledge of the military, you have to put in a little more effort. 

 

There are many reasons why you’d want to target members of the military. Perhaps you’re developing holiday promotions and want to create a military offer for Veteran’s Day. Or perhaps you own a business that offers services or products that military members would find attractive. Whatever the case, knowing how to move forward will improve your chances for success. Here are a few tips: 

 

Understand Consumption Patterns of Military Members

Before you start creating a strategy of your own, it helps to understand what drives military purchases and what the purchasing patterns for this group looks like. The veteran community alone generates $19 billion in annual revenue, spread across 20 million veterans. Active military members earn over $32,000 annually on average. Accummatively, active members, veterans, and their spouses have $1 trillian in buying power annually. With this level of potential in mind, it’s clear that marketing to this group in tailored way can be beneficial to both your business and the members you serve. 

 

Creating a Gated Offer

You may have heard of gated offers before and simply don’t know there’s a terminology for it. Gated offers are accessible to only qualified buyers, typically through a verification process. Military members enjoy a myriad of gated offers; by showing their ID, they can receive exclusive discounts and deals at restaurants and retailers, for example. 

 

Studies have shown that gated offers evoke positive feelings among consumers, and drive purchase behavior. Eighty-two percent of customers that were introduced to a brand via a gated offer were more likely to return, and 68% of consumers believe that gated offers are more appealing than discounts intended for anyone. As a business owner, you can create your own gated offer to boost awareness, build buzz, and attract military members to your offering. 

 

Be Authentic

No one wants to be a simple transaction, and this especially applies to military members who have put their lives on the line so that all Americans—including business owners—can lead safe lives in their homes and country. Therefore, the messaging you use is important. Always thank a military member for their service; this token of appreciation goes a long way, time and time again. When possible, take your efforts a step further. For example, why not spearhead a direct mail marketing campaign, using personalized envelope printing and handwritten cards? This level of authenticity is rarely found in business, and will help you stand out from your competition. 

 

Promote During Relevant Holidays

If you’re spearheading a military-based campaign, it’s best to align it with a holiday relevant to military members. For instance, May is Military Appreciation Month, but you also have Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day. Each of these would be a great time to launch your program. However, no matter when you choose to promote it, your promotion tactics are equally important. Create targeted social media campaigns, and design marketing materials with strong patriotic imagery. 

 

Engage With the Military Audience

You can combine your targeting efforts with genuine connection by turning to social media to engage with the military audience. By engaging in dialogue, it shows that you’re interested in learning more about the people you intend to target. Ask for their advice, offer kind words, and be transparent. You should also get involved with your military community, too. Head over to Meetup.com and search for military-minded events in the area. You may even be able to sponsor an event for military members, which further builds awareness around your brand and allows you to have more of a face-to-face connection with your audience.