When Federal Employees Need Legal Representation- Part 1

brown and goodkin

By Dan Goodkin

According to the Office of Personnel Management, veterans make up approximately thirty percent of the federal workforce. In 2015, approximately one third of new hires by the federal government were veterans. Most federal employees who become disabled, are injured on the job, wrongfully disciplined, or are the victims of discrimination or harassment have options to secure their financial future that they may not be aware of. With more than 50 years of combined experience representing federal employees in all of these administrative matters, Brown & Goodkin limits its practice to representing federal employees in these matters.

The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) program covers employees who become disabled; workplace injuries are covered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA); adverse actions, such as wrongful termination or suspension, are covered by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB); and discrimination/harassment based on a protected status is covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.)

FERS Disability Retirement https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/fers-information/types-of-retirement/#url=Disability

Under FERS, most federal employees, who began employment after 1984, and who have 18 months or more of federal service who become disabled are eligible to retire early. Eligibility under disability retirement does not require a showing that the employee is totally disabled. The employee need only show that he or she is disabled from his or her official position. The annuity benefit is paid at 60% of the employee’s high 3 average for the first year of disability and 40% each year after until the employee turns 62. While receiving this annuity, the annuitant will still receive the group rate for health insurance.

At 62, the annuity is re-calculated as if the employee did not have to retire early, and years of service for the time the employee received a disability annuity are added to the total years of service. Veterans who buy back their military time prior to retirement can also add the number of years of military service to the total years of service computation at age 62. Disability retirement applications can be filed while employed, even if still working, and up to one year after employment has ended, regardless of whether the employment ended because of termination. Our firm offers 100% money back guarantee with regard to our representation for disability retirement applications.

The next installment will cover Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB.)

Calling All Retired Pilots

retired

By Debbie Gregory.

Retired pilots- the Air Force wants you…again!

To that end, the service branch has initiated the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty Program (VRRAD) for pilots under the age of 60 in the rank of captain, major or lieutenant colonel, who retired within the last five years.

Pilots who held a job in the 11X career field are encouraged to apply before Dec. 31, 2018 to fill 25 flight staff positions for an active-duty tour of one year. Should those positions remain unfilled, the Air Force will extend the program deadline into 2019.

Applicants must be medically qualified for active duty with a flying class II physical; must have served in a rated staff position within the past 10 years; or have been qualified in an Air Force aircraft within five years of application.

The goal is to get experienced pilots to man staff jobs, or serve as instructor pilots to free up younger officers to get more training, and more hours in the air, which is one key to retention.

“We have a number of positions around the Air Force that require the expertise of someone who has been a military pilot, and [we] would like to be able to keep our pilots who are current in the aircraft in the aircraft and try to fill some of these vital flight slots,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Today’s Air Force requires 20,000 pilots to fly fighter jets, transport planes, helicopters and drones. This year, the service reported it was down 1,500 pilots. But the latest figures show the problem is getting worse, with a shortfall of 1,926 pilots.

Former airmen can apply for the program via the myPers website. Those without a myPers account  can do so at  http://www.afpc.af.mil/myPers/.

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.

Veterans’ Preference Hiring Program

The-Veterans-Preference-Point-System

By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans’ Preference gives those who are disabled, served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns preference over others in hiring for virtually all federal government jobs for veterans. While veterans’ preference does not guarantee jobs for military veterans, it does show our nation’s gratitude by giving them a leg up.

Veterans’ Preference was enacted at the end of the Civil War to aid disabled veterans. It was greatly expanded after World War I, allowing able-bodied, honorably discharged veterans, widows of deceased veterans and wives of severely disabled ones to take advantage of the assistance. Under the Obama administration, federal agencies established hiring goals that has resulted in one-third of new federal hires being veterans.

The program works on a point system, with 100 being the highest score. Typically, applicants receive points by either taking a test or through an evaluation of their education and experience. Disabled veterans got extra 10 points added to that score, while other former soldiers received 5 points. In the case of a tie, veterans are placed ahead of non-veterans. In addition, veterans with more serious service-related disabilities are placed at the top of the list, as long as they achieved a passing grade of 70 points.

Hiring officials cannot pass over veterans in the top category to hire more qualified non-veterans.

Younger veterans born since 1980 are about 15 times more likely than non-veterans of the same age to hold federal jobs.

Veterans’ Preference is a powerful hiring tool that can help veterans reach the veteran employers of the federal workforce.

Although it only directly benefited about one-tenth of veterans in the past, nearly one-third of recent veterans have federal jobs, many more than would have them in the absence of preferential hiring.

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.

How Employers Can Retain Veteran Employees

regard

By Debbie Gregory.

Despite a push to increase jobs for military veterans, statistics reveal that almost half of all veterans leave their first post-military position within a year, and only 20-40% of veterans will see their second work anniversary.

It would be naive to conclude that these vets are leaving for better veteran jobs. Most of these first jobs are vacated due to a lack of familiar work culture, career development/advancement, meaning, or professional development opportunities.

What can veteran employers do to help retain their veteran employees?

The first step would be integrate new veteran employees into the workforce by overcoming language differences. Military terminology is quite a bit different from civilian terminology. Even the job descriptions may need to go through a skills translator. Veterans that aren’t familiar with corporate language may be perceived as less competent or cooperative, and may have trouble connecting with their superiors. A simple remedy is to educate managers, recruiters, and leaders about military culture and language. If the company already employs veterans, they should be called upon to help close the divide.

Preparing an orientation program for veteran students has shown great success at colleges and universities. Perhaps a similar program for new veteran employees would assist them in navigating the organization.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the rules in the military are often very different than in the corporate world, so clarity is key. Make sure the unwritten rules are as clear as the written ones.

Buddy up: giving veteran employees a connection with someone who is already well-established in the organization with a similar military background can give a new employee the insight and connection they need to succeed at your company.

Help your veteran employees understand their role within the company. Remember that those who have served are purpose, vision, mission, and value motivated.

Through small, meaningful actions, employers can get great results in retention by integrating veterans into corporate life.

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.

MilitaryConnection.com and VAMBOA Hit Record Numbers on Social Media

mc and vamboa logos

Gregory Media CEO Debbie Gregory is proud to announce that MilitaryConnection.com and its sister organization VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, achieved new records on social media, surpassing 1.2 million combined fans and followers.

This growth in social media is also having a positive impact and generating increased traffic on the websites.

MilitaryConnection.com, known as “the Go to Site” is one of the most comprehensive online directories of resources and information, with something for everyone. This site connects its audience with excellent jobs and employment resources, military/veteran friendly colleges, universities and vocational schools, benefits, news, resources and much more. There is also a comprehensive directory for each military service branch. MilitaryConnection.com is an outstanding online advertising venue to reach military, veterans and their loved ones.

The web site also works with a multitude of non-profits within the military and veteran communities, using it significant reach to help them “get out the word” on their causes and events, and facilitates win/win partnerships with organizations and clients.

“We are excited to see the continued growth of our social media reach, as well as website traffic,” said Gregory. “We know that we are delivering quality resources to our audience, including the daily articles on our Blog and our Newsletter.”

VAMBOA, a 501 (c) 6 non-profit trade association, has over 7,000 members nationwide. VAMBOA focuses on connecting members with corporations seeking a diverse network of suppliers. The association is supported through corporate sponsorships, and does not charge members any membership fees.

“Supporting the businesses of our military members and veterans and contributing to their successes provides us with the opportunity to express our pride and appreciation to and for the many who have served and sacrificed to make our country free,” said Gregory. “ It also enables corporations to work with companies run by America’s heroes.

Veterans Can Be Trained For High Tech Jobs with New Federal Program

tech training for vets

By Debbie Gregory.

While the post-9/11 GI Bill provides funding for veterans to pursue traditional education programs, technological advancements have resulted in high tech jobs for military, high tech jobs for veterans, military high tech jobs and veteran high tech jobs.

These are great jobs that veterans interested in technology careers can and should fill. But unfortunately, most short-term tech training programs aren’t eligible for funding from the G.I. Bill,

A bill sponsored by CA Rep. Ro Khanna will now change that. The bill will launch a five-year pilot program so that short-term tech training courses will be able to get G.I. Bill funding much easier.

“These types of skills might be more beneficial in getting a good job than two years of college or even four years of college,” said Khanna.

The bill will fund programs like NPower, a nonprofit that offers courses in the basics of computer hardware, software, and advanced network administration..

The program, which costs between $6,000 and $10,000 per student, is currently funded by foundations and grants and doesn’t charge the veteran participants. But G.I. Bill funding would enable NPower to serve a greater number of veterans.

Khanna’s bill also allows veterans to collect their BAH housing stipends to offset their living expenses while they’re taking a training course.

High tech training will give veterans a leg up when it comes to securing good jobs. In fact, many veterans already have security clearances necessary for tech companies that contract with the government.

Khanna was the lead Democratic sponsor on the tech funding pilot program which was spearheaded by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield as part of a larger G.I. Bill expansion.

If the pilot program goes well, it could become permanent.

“This is reorienting the G.I. Bill for the 21st century,” Khanna said.

In a deeply divided Congress, it’s nice to see our elected officials reach across the aisle to benefit our veterans.

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.

 

Corporate Gray Sets the Standard

corporate gray

Corporate Gray was established in 1994 to help transitioning and former military personnel connect with employers in print through the Corporate Gray book (now titled, The Military-to-Civilian Transition Guide), in person at their Corporate Gray “Military Friendly” Job Fairs, and online through Corporate Gray Online.  They have set the standard with regard to hosting quality job fairs, publishing a first-rate career transition book, and running an advanced military-to-civilian career transition website.  To date, they’ve given over 4 million copies of their Corporate Gray book to transitioning service members, held over 150 military-focused job fairs across the country, and connected thousands of veterans with employers through Corporate Gray Online.  A brief description of each major service follows…

The Corporate Gray Military-to-Civilian Transition Guide provides useful and actionable advice to separating/retiring service members.  From self-assessment to resume writing to networking to salary negotiations, this book leads you through each step of the job search process.  A free copy is given to everyone leaving military service from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

The Corporate Gray Military-Friendly Job Fairs connect military veterans face-to-face with both local and nationwide employers.  The Corporate Gray Job Fairs are currently being held in the Washington, DC Metro area and Virginia Beach.  These events are especially for transitioning service members, veterans, and their spouses.  The job fair schedule is shown at http://www.corporategray.com/jobfairs.

Corporate Gray Online (www.CorporateGray.com) is a military-niche employment website connecting transitioning and former military personnel with employers nationwide. Job seekers can post their resume, search and apply for jobs, learn about upcoming job fairs, and gain access to important information for their job search. Employers can post their jobs and use a customized resume search interface to find military-experienced candidates meeting their needs.

Corporate Gray is active in social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) and has published the book, Social Media and Your Job Search: Maximizing Your Network for a Successful Transition.  They also present social media workshops at military installations in the Washington, DC Metro area.

2017 Jobs For Heroes Act Helps Servicemembers Obtain Commercial Driving Licenses

cdl123

By Debbie Gregory.

A bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that would streamline the process of applying for a commercial driver’s license for active duty, reservists and veterans.

Previous legislation, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 provided similar benefits to veterans applying for their CDL licenses.  The current legislation would permanently extend the same benefits to those who are still in uniform.

The proposed legislation will make permanent a two-year exemption issued by the Department of Transportation that allowed states to waive the commercial driver’s license knowledge test for current service members, Reservists, and National Guardsmen, if, within the last twelve months, they completed military training programs and were regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles.

This will help remove barriers and legal obstacles to make it easier for those who serve to obtain commercial licenses.  It will also assist them in gaining good jobs using their skills and expertise, regardless of where in the nation they are seeking employment.

MilitaryConnection.com is one of the most diversified directories of resources and information for military, reservists, national guardsmen, veterans and their loved ones.  Employment is a major area of focus.  There are a multitude of resources for those seeking jobs and we encourage users to check them out.   Military Connection has been named a Top 100 Employment Web Site and in 2015 won the prestigious Users Choice Award.  When the next tour is back home, it’s on MilitaryConnection.com, the Go To Site.

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.

Non-profit Helps Veteran Farmers

farmer

By Debbie Gregory.

In November, 2006, William O’Hare and Bill Bishop of the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute published a report showing that “rural families are paying a disproportionately high price for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael O’Gorman was farming in Mexico at the time, overseeing 1,600 acres of organic tomatoes, peas, basil and other fresh market produce. But he had a long history of farming in California and knew many other growers there. O’Gorman organized a gathering for farmers in California’s Central Coast to talk about creating jobs on their farms for returning veterans.

From that gathering came the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a non-profit based in Davis, CA. So far, the coalition has given out $1.2 million in grants to veterans who want to start farms.

Among those supporting the coalition’s efforts are the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, Prairie Grove Farms, Farm Credit Counsel, Prudential Financial and Kubota Tractor Corporation.

O’Gorman felt that his personal journey, of going into agriculture with no money, land or education nearly forty years earlier, and becoming one of the country’s most prolific organic farmers, could help a new generation of new farmers.

“When I read the Carsey study, there was something magnetic about the idea of getting veterans on the farm,” said O’Gorman. “Just short of 40 years in my career path, I decided to do something different.”

In 2009, O’Gorman received substantial funding from the Iraq and Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund, which he said “was handling the nation’s largest private donation made on behalf of American veterans.

“They vetted 50 groups and distributed most of the money the year prior, but when they heard about FVC, the leaders recognized the unique program we had to offer veterans, and we became the 51st group to receive funding.”

The coalition’s vision of the future is an organization that will be around for decades, in every state, continuing to unite the agricultural sector: government, education, private industry, conventional and alternative farming and the veterans themselves.

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.

 

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.