Coping with Military Deployment – Tips for Helping Children Before Deployment

The Best Military Spouse Blogs

May…springtime is in full swing…we celebrate and thank our teacher, nurses, mothers and honor our nation’s fallen heroes…but did you know it is also the time of Military Spouse Appreciation Day? Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a holiday set aside to tell military spouses why they matter — and why they are needed. Each year Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day at  US military bases and within military families around the globe.

In our digital age blogs of all kinds provide unique perspectives, share knowledge and provide a sense of community for those walking a similar path in their own lives. There are no shortage of blogs on all aspects of military life. In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day here are some links to some creative and relevant  blogs written by and for military spouses.

Jo, My Gosh:  We recommend you start reading this blog for the same reason Jo started writing it- the care packages. Jo offers great content on creating that special something. But don’t stop there! Stick around for more DIY tips and tales of military life.

Cosmopolitan Cornbread by Constance Smith:  Army Wife of 25+ years and veteran blogger. Anywhere Constance goes, she chronicles her journey with her readers – from creating family-friendly recipes and hiking in the wilderness of Alaska to photographic journeys and exploring the culture and food scene around her.

Somewhere Over the Camo: Amanda is here for other military spouses. Her blog details her family life and also has a lot to offer to others.

A Day in the Life of an Officer’s Wife: Shannon’s experience as a wife to a Naval Officer, a mother to a little girl, and their day-to-day life as a military family makes for a beautiful blog.

The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Weekly blogs/columns offer an honest, often humorous, look at military family life — from the daily minutia to the poignant moments, and every dust bunny, sassy teenager, and burnt pancake in between.

Macho Spouse: For male military spouses by male military spouses – an online resource and information hub for male military spouses.Macho Spouse helps male military spouses successfully navigate current military life through videos, online networking and communication.

We, at Military Connection,thank you for your contribution to our nation’s military. You are the silent heroes of the homefront and we appreciate your service. Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to each and every one of you. 

 

What Veterans and their Spouses Need to Know about Life Insurance

What Veterans and their Spouses Need to Know about Life Insurance

Submitted by Veronica Baxter

Before separating from military service, there are some decisions you need to make regarding the financial future of your family. An individual life insurance policy may figure into those plans.

Government-sponsored Ways to Protect Your Family Financially

Military Pension

Prior to separating, you will have the option to provide that your spouse receive a portion of your military pension when you die. This is at significant cost, so be sure to weigh the benefits of provided for your surviving spouse against the loss of retirement income to pay for that.

 

If you are a war-time veteran, your surviving spouse and unmarried surviving children may be eligible for a modest Survivors Pension, also called a Death Pension.

Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

This low-cost group term life insurance policy is available to active duty, active duty/inactive duty for training, and National Guardsman and Reservists. Upon separation from the military you have the opportunity to convert this policy to a either Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or to an individual plan. Again, veterans should weigh the cost of converting this insurance with the potential benefit.

 

To convert the SGLI policy to VGLI, a veteran must take action within one year and 120 of discharge. If the veteran submits an application to convert within 240 days of discharge the insurer will not require any proof of insurability or take a medical exam.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

Veterans’ survivors can receive thousands of dollars in tax-free payments if certain criteria is met: 

 

  • Service member dies during service;
  • Veteran dies due to a service-connected disability;
  • Veteran’s death unrelated to service but VA rated him or her totally disabled from a service connected disability.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)

Any veteran who is rated disabled qualifies for a Serivice-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) that provides life insurance coverage up to $10,000. Totally disabled veterans can have premiums waived and apply for an additional $30,000 in life insurance coverage, for which they must pay premiums.

Private Individual Life Insurance

For many veterans, private individual life insurance bridges the gap between what is available to their surviving spouse and children through the government, and what their surviving family needs to survive financially. Even if you and your family qualify for all available government financial assistance programs listed above, those benefits may still leave your family short.

 

For those who do not qualify for many of these benefits, for example, the surviving spouses who married veterans after they separated from the military, or for the surviving spouses of those who did not opt to convert their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance to an individual plan, or for the surviving spouse of a veteran who was not disabled prior to death, a private individual life insurance policy may be the only remaining way a veterant can provide for his or her spouse.

AD&D Insurance

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance is a type of life insurance policy that pays benefits to the insured should he or she become accidentally injured, and death benefits to the insured’s named beneficiaries should the insured die accidentally or from injuries sustained in an accident.

 

AD&D insurance can be a stand-alone policy, in which case it is generally less expensive than traditional life insurance. AD&D insurance can also be a rider on an existing life insurance policy.

 

AD&D insurance can be valuable if a veteran later becomes disabled or dies due to injuries sustained in a non-service-related accident.

Burial Insurance or PreNeed Funeral Insurance

For veterans who do not qualify for whatever reason for government burial benefits, other types of insurance can cover funeral costs. These policies vary greatly among different insurance companies, but in general, the benefit is quite low, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

 

Burial insurance pays the benefit directly to the beneficiary and any amount left over after funeral and burial costs are paid may be used to pay other expenses, such as outstanding medical bills, etc.

 

PreNeed Funeral Insurance pays the benefit directly to the funeral service provider of the insured’s choice.

Converting SGLI to USAA Term LIfe Insurance

For members of the military and veterans, USAA offers terms from 10 to 30 years and can replace some or all of the life insurance coverage a veteran had under SGLI. USAA also offers a term life event option rider which permits veterans to increase coverage by up to $100,000 if he or she gets married, buys a house, or has a baby.

Converting SGLI to AAFMAA Term Life Insurance

Veterans who are members of AAFMAA are eligible for up to $800,000 in term life insurance coverage. Term options available to veterans depend upon the age of the veteran and how long he or she needs life insurance coverage.

 

In conclusion, there are private sector insurance options that can make up for the gap in what amount funds your lifestyle now, and what amount will be available to your surviving family once you die.  Consult an insurance agent in your area to explore your options, and get the peace of mind that comes with providing for your family’s financial future.

 

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia.  She works frequently with Chad G. Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance attorney in Philadelphia.

The Military Spouse and Entrepreneurship – Eight Do’s & Don’ts

By Guest Contributor Renee Nickell
 
For 17 years, I had been a stay at home mom and military spouse.  My days consisted of homeschooling my kids, chauffeuring, meal-planning, budgeting, making sure life was stable during TDY’s and deployments, and supporting my husband through three college degrees.  While these things gave me great fulfillment and I loved my role in the family, I had always had dreams of my own.  Our family made a lot of sacrifices for me to stay at home with my children.  Society says you can’t survive on one income and we proved them wrong.
About two years ago, my husband and I really started talking about leaving the corporate world. He was now a reservist and disabled veteran and he wanted to support me in accomplishing my hopes and dreams.  We haven’t gotten to the point of him leaving his job yet, but we are working towards it.  I went full steam ahead and began writing my first non-fiction memoir.  It was published in July 2018 and it was certainly a dream come true.  Since that time, I’ve had to teach myself how to market, grow my tribe, advertise, and everything else that goes along with being a new entrepreneur.
Just two months before I decided to start writing my book, my husband was suddenly told that he would no longer be “fit for duty” until he underwent a medical review board.  This meant our monthly military pay was gone with zero notice!  This was a huge blow for him as a commander and 17-year veteran.  We had to make things work with a sudden drop in income.  This was a huge risk.  It’s been 18 months and still no medical review board, but we are still making it without his military pay.
If you are a military spouse who may be considering starting a new business on a limited budget, I want to give you a list of eight do’s and don’ts that will help you make that decision:
 
1. Don’t rely on the bank account for you to start your business.
Now some may say, “Renee, this is NOT wisdom.  Every business needs cash!”  Well, no they don’t.  How many dreams have been born around a kitchen table?  How many bakeries have started with mixing the flour and sugar in a small home kitchen?  Many businesses now are started on one-income families with small investments.  Start small, but dream BIG!
2. Don’t expect to get rich quick.
With the social media, coaching craze happening right now, all it takes is one look at your timeline to believe you can become an overnight sensation on YouTube and make 6-figures in two months.  It may happen for some, but for most of us, that isn’t realistic.  What is realistic, if that is your goal, is to grow in what you know.  What you don’t know, learn.  Long-term success takes time, energy, knowledge, and patience.  Remember that turtle that was slow and steady?
3. Do plan on working long hours with no pay.
Startup businesses do not start making revenue right away.  Like I mentioned before, I’m 18 months into “the dream”. I haven’t made any profit thus far, but that doesn’t keep me from moving forward.  Your desire to turn “the dream” into a reality MUST be stronger than the desire to get rich quick.  What this has taught me, is that I am showing my children delayed gratification.  They know mom works A LOT, but I am always teaching them that it’s perseverance and hard work that will eventually pay off, not giving up when you see little results (this can go for weight loss or building up savings).
4. Do expect to make sacrifices.
Have you heard those stories of incredibly successful entrepreneurs that have sold everything they own to make their dream a reality?  Yes, I can relate.  When I was publishing my book, my husband would come home from work and wonder where our furniture went.  I’d tell him I had to pay the editor.  This went on for months until we finally put in for a job transfer and sold our home…providing us with funds to market the book.  You will learn to do what you can to make it work.
5. Don’t expect everyone to understand or be supportive.
Let’s face it…no one will be as excited as you about your new venture.  Friends may think you’re crazy or possibly be upset with your new time constraints.  Naysayers may be jealous and Facebookers may get annoyed.  So, what?  Only ONE person needs to believe in your dream…YOU!  You WILL grow your tribe…don’t try to appease everyone (and most of the people on your social media won’t be your tribe, that takes time to grow).  Those that do support you – keep them close.
6. Don’t give up.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your small business.  If you are dedicated to doing what you believe in and you’re aware that building a business takes time, you WILL eventually see results.  I promise.  Hang in there and know that you will have good days and bad days, but the good days make the bad days worth it.
7. Do take the risk.
Maybe it’s because of my life experiences, but life is too short to not take the risk.  I mean, I’m not talking about bungee jumping here.  Sometimes the greatest results happen because of the greatest risks.  Six months after I published my book I wrote my favorite author and asked for an endorsement.  Guess what, she said yes.  I was so scared to ask, but my husband always tells me, “if you don’t ask, your answer will definitely be no, but if you do ask, you may get a yes.”  He would remind me this after all the “no’s” I have gotten.  I still take the risk and it’s really been incredible to see what doors have opened.
8. Do have the time of your life!
Always remember your “why” and enjoy the journey.  It’s truly the journey that you have to learn to appreciate, because that journey never ends.  Make small goals and celebrate when you meet those goals.
 
I hope this insight will help the new entrepreneur.  If you are a military spouse venturing into new territory, know that you can do this.  Remember that incredibly painful deployment when the kids were puking and the roof was leaking and the car broke down and it was still 10 days until payday?  Well, if you can get through that…you can do this.  The military spouse is resilient and strong.  Be encouraged and go out and make your dreams happen!
 
Renee Nickell is a military spouse, Gold Star sibling, and author of “Always My Hero: The Road to Hope & Healing Following My Brother’s Death in Afghanistan.” Renee has been featured on FOX & Friends, The Brian Kilmeade Show, and SOFREP Radio; her mission is to increase awareness of the difficulties that military families face, to better help them endure, recover, and heal.  For more about Renee, go to www.reneenickell.com.

The Job Search: Navigating a Job Fair

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
 
(This is one of a series of posts relating to the job search. Check back weekly for observations on a variety of employment assistance topics.)
Career fairs, hiring events, job fairs, career expos…whatever you might call them, if you’ve looked for a job anytime recently, you’ve probably been to one. And love ‘em or hate ‘em, many of us consider them a necessary evil, one of those aspects of the search for employment that would be hard to replace.
Job fairs come in all shapes and sizes, from the “one employer at the local career center” variety to the 150-employer extravaganza that was advertised at the regional or national level. Since many of you will find yourself at that registration table sooner or later, we’ve put together a list of things to be sure and do and things to avoid at YOUR next hiring event.
Do your homework. Pre-register for the event and try to get a listing of those companies attending in advance. If you have the opportunity, do a little detective work…research them & get a feel for their open positions. You’ll be able to talk intelligently about the company with the recruiter and you’ll give a great first impression. And don’t rule out companies just because they’re recruiting for positions outside your career field. Remember, this is a networking event. And while you’re at it, network with fellow job seekers & other professionals in the vicinity. Remember, many times it’s who you know…
Dress professionally. For more information on that topic, see last Friday’s post on Dressing for Success. I’ll place an emphasis on comfortable shoes, and call them a necessity for a day like this.
Accessorize with a portfolio. Have a clean pad of paper with a list of questions. Take good notes for follow-up after the fair…but remove the page from the top of the tablet when you’ve completed the interview with each recruiter. Yes, the interview. Think of a job fair as a series of mini-interviews…lots of chances to make great first impressions.
Bring business cards. A professionally designed card, tailored to introduce you as a job seeker, is a must! Resumes are your second choice…ask the recruiter which they prefer. Bring different versions of your resumes if you’re searching for different types of jobs, and have them tucked in a separate folder inside your portfolio.
Minimize your chances of bad breath. Watch what you eat. This is especially true for those fairs in the afternoons, where it’s just too easy to have onions or garlic on what you eat for lunch. Be careful not to drink coffee or smoke right before the event, and you may want to use a strong mint right before entering the fair.
When you first arrive…smiling is required. A recent study indicated that smiling faces were easier to remember. Start with the gatekeepers and others in the queue waiting to enter the event. Obtain a floor plan of the event and locate your targeted employers. Walk the room first, if needed, to relax and get the feel of how the recruiters are working their stations.
Put the phone away. Unless you’re bumping phones to trade contact information with the recruiter, or showing an employer how well you create mobile-friendly apps, just put it away. Enough said.
Listen. Process what questions are being asked of the recruiter by other candidates while you stand in line, waiting. Try not to ask the same question others have asked…especially if the recruiter knows that you were within earshot and should have been paying attention. Listen to what the recruiters are asking the other candidates, for these same questions may be asked of you.
Meeting the recruiter. Don’t just walk up to a table and interrupt the current conversation; wait your turn and be polite. Some employers will have long lines, which will deter (and discourage) some jobseekers. The amount of time you will have with the recruiter can vary from mere seconds to minutes. Take notes if possible and offer your business card or resume.
Sell yourself. Prepare (and rehearse) your one-minute elevator pitch, highlighting your unique value proposition…what you can offer the employer. Be prepared to talk about your military history and work experiences, as well as your skills and abilities. Questions not to ask: Are you hiring? What kind of jobs do you have? What does it pay? All those indicate you haven’t done a lick of research about the company’s opportunities for employment.
Before you leave each table/recruiter/mini-interview, take the initiative and ask, “What’s the next step?” Don’t be offended if the recruiter tells you that they don’t need your resume and you’ll have to apply online for their open positions. If you have time, ask if there are any suggested tips for completing their online job application. Request the recruiter’s business card for future correspondence, shake hands, and thank them for their time. Move away and finalize your notes.
Follow up. Email each recruiter (with whom you had a meaningful conversation) a note about 2-3 days after the event, thanking them for their time and recapping your conversation (this is why your notes are so important). Attach a PDF version of your resume, so they’ll have it digitally.
Finally, here are some recruiters’ pet peeves: Too much cologne or perfume. Weak or sloppy handshake. Too many filler words (“like’, “you know”). Walking from booth to booth, picking up swag. Even worse – walking up to a recruiter with a bag full of stuff and then fumbling for your resume/business card, which happens to be stuck to the free pen you picked up from another recruiter.
One last note about career fairs…keep in mind that these events aren’t all about YOU and open jobs…these events are about networking with companies that you’d like to work for. If you get a referral for a job, consider it your lucky day. It means that you did everything right to warrant that recommendation…
 
Do you have any tidbits or success stories from your experiences at career fairs? Anything that might benefit others in the military community, facing the same challenges? If so, tell us your story and email [email protected]!

Lest we forget, during the holidays…

Lest we forget, during the holidays…

By Guest Contributor Renee Nickell

The holidays are approaching, so you know what that means…the black plague of shopping is upon us.  No, I don’t really think this way. I love shopping during the holidays, albeit mostly online. Enter Thanksgiving-the day we feast with family, watch football, and discuss all those blessings we are so thankful for.  Then, just when everyone is getting settled down for the night after gorging on pumpkin pie and spiced eggnog, the avid Black Friday shoppers are reading their flyers, marking their maps and strategizing as if they are preparing for combat, ready to trample anyone in their path that would prevent them from purchasing their child the latest, most popular, deeply discounted item…the must-have item that will be played with for about 10 minutes and placed on a shelf until next year.

Yes, it’s the holidays. It brings out the best or worst in all of us.  I for one, have been the best and the worst to those around me at times I’m sure.  Let me explain, Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been so special to our family, being that we don’t always get to see a lot of our family during the year.  We are “the military family.” We see family when we can and in the past, that has always depended on where we were in the country and whether we could afford to travel long distances (raise your hand if you’re a military family on a tiny budget, yet are expected to travel to see everyone else during the holidays).

I’d say being around those I love always brings out the best side of me.  The side that loves to laugh and cook, play practical jokes, and watch Christmas movies.  In recent years past, it’s been difficult celebrating Christmas when my brother Sam made his last phone call to us on Thanksgiving 2011, and then was killed in action just three weeks later on December 14th   in Afghanistan.  I am thankful for my husband and children who are so patient with me during those “bad days.” While most families were preparing their Christmas plans and wrapping gifts, we were planning a funeral.  The reality is, if we hadn’t been planning a funeral, Sam would have still been in war, separated from his family like so many other deployed members are each and every year.

Many military families daydream of running through an airport with their balloons and signs, imagining their little toddlers stumbling over their own feet because they haven’t seen mommy or daddy in nine months.  It becomes hard to fathom the scenario of holiday shopping madness of people pushing and shoving each other that has now begun on Thanksgiving Day in recent years, instead of waiting until Black Friday. How has our beloved Thanksgiving now become Black Thursday?  Who agreed to this?

You get a whole new perspective when you’re sitting around a Christmas tree wondering what you’re to do, since there was no time for Christmas shopping because your brother of 36 years of age was recently killed.  We had three young children at the time, and he had two young sons. That was the Christmas when Black Friday or any other shopping day didn’t really seem to matter anymore. We just wondered how we would survive each year without him.  

Being a military spouse and a military family, we have an understanding that so many people do not.  0.4 percent of Americans are currently serving on active duty. The scope of understanding what military life is like is getting smaller and smaller for Americans as fewer people are serving.  For the majority of my life I have lived or have been part of a military community. It is hard to fathom that so many American’s do not understand or cannot comprehend the magnitude of sacrifice our military men and woman face each day.  “Since 2001, 2.77 million service members have served on 5.4 million deployments across the world with soldiers from the Army accounting for the bulk of them. Deployed personnel were under 30 years old on average, over half were married and about half had children” (McCarthy, 2018).

Understand this-In the past 17 years, there have been 5.4 MILLION deployments.  This means that statically, every service member since 2001 have deployed twice.  Now, we all know that there are some that never deployed and there are those that have deployed nine times.  Let us not forget about Retired Navy Seal, Dan Crenshaw, who got blown up in Afghanistan in 2012, lost an eye, and signed up to be deployed two more times.  Let that sink in during your hair pulling and Samsung TV trampling shopping event after telling cousin June how much you hate grandma’s lumpy gravy.

But I digress.  You see, Christmas will never be the same for our family.  As if it weren’t bad enough that military families have to miss anniversaries, birthdays, and births, some of us will forever have the empty chair at the table.  Christmas of 2011 was our families first experience with the proverbial empty chair. Not only was there going to be an empty chair, but also an empty Christmas Tree on Christmas morning.

Cue the sad, melodic, music which begins to increase as the doorbell rings on Christmas morning.  Just when you think life couldn’t get any sadder…it’s as if I could hear the sound of angels singing and thunder erupt from the heavens shouting “SEND IN THE MARINES!”  And that was the day the Marines were sent in to save the day for our family. That Christmas, the one with all the small children, and not a present in sight, was the Christmas that restored my hope in well…everything good.  You see, two young, sharply dressed Marines showed up with Christmas present after Christmas present for our families just five days after my brother’s memorial service. I don’t recall any child that morning wishing for something else or complaining they didn’t receive a new puppy or a $500 iPad.  What I heard was grateful children, happy to have experienced a little joy that morning, long enough to get a short break from the tears.

For years, our families have been donors to Marine Toys for Tots.  Did you ever wonder who was the recipient of those toys?  I did. I wondered about the “less fortunate” children that would have Christmas from the Marines because people were generous enough to donate in stores and businesses across the United States. Christmas morning of 2011, I realized where those toys go.  I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined our family would be the recipient of such an amazing organization. But that day, well, it brought us hope.

The following year, I made this observation:  Christmas morning came, children awoke out of their beds, and not a single one asked about opening presents.  There were presents under the tree, but it wasn’t the focus of the day. These children knew and understood, at such a young age, the level of sacrifice no family should have to endure.  There were giggles and smiles, hugs and pancakes…and then we got to the presents.

It’s 2018, and there is still a war.  There are many wars still happening that we never hear about in mainstream media.  There are men and women still sacrificing their lives for our opportunity to shop until we drop.  They do it willingly. They don’t begrudge our opportunities to bless our kids. They do it with willing hearts because they love America. I know they would much rather be with their families during the holidays, as they do not get to choose when they will go or when they will return home.

There are military families all over this country who will be separated from their hero, either by ocean or by death, that are not focused on the “buy now” or the “add to cart” button.  They just desire their family together. Don’t get me wrong. Shopping is not evil. Black Friday or Thursday or any other day to spend time shopping for your family is not evil. Get all your girlfriends together and have a great time doing it, while the men are at home watching football (or sleeping).  I love shopping and I love shopping especially for my children and family. We now try to do extra special things at Christmas to make new memories, which usually entails a special trip, and less presents.

I always believe the best way to combat the materialism at Christmas is to give-and give generously.  While you’re out shopping or enjoying your feasts with your families, let me suggest that you take the time to remember those that are deployed.  Pick up an extra gift and donate it to Toys for Tots. There are donation boxes everywhere. You can also go online and donate money. Say a prayer for our deployed and their families.  You never know when they’ll receive the dreaded knock on the door. You know that military family down the street in their twenties with two young children? Perhaps give them a card with some cash in it to help pay for their travels home to see grandma and grandpa. The ones they haven’t seen since before the last two deployments.

In addition to Toys for Tots, an organization that provides a beautifully wrapped gift for Gold Star children is Believe With Me.  It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization who helps support Gold Star families throughout the year. At Christmastime, this group of selfless volunteers prepares months in advance to purchase, wrap, and ship gifts to hundreds of Gold Star children.  They call it an American Gold Star Christmas and it’s spectacular! It is a wonderful gift to be remembered at such a difficult time of year and I know these families are grateful that their heroes sacrifice have not been forgotten, nor have their children. Believe With Me allows donors to purchase the gifts themselves or provide cash or gift cards and the organization will shop for the sponsored children.

Believe With Me currently has 300 Gold Star children signed up for gifts.  They are expecting over 1000 children this year. The non-profit continues to grow each year in its provision for fatherless or motherless children.  Sadly, this means that there are thousands of children who are missing a parent, not only at Christmas, but forever. Believe With Me depends solely on the donations of others and they depend on the volunteers who help package and ship these beautiful gifts.  I spoke with the Founder of Believe With Me, Lyette Reback, about the upcoming American Gold Star Christmas. She explains,

An American Gold Star Christmas is your opportunity to give back to the families of our fallen soldiers. Your donation will allow high school and university students the opportunity to shop for Gold Star kids’ wish lists and the students will be impacted by the up close and personal cost of their freedoms. This year, Believe With Me will have more than 1000 children to serve and the cost of the project will total more than $150,000. FedEx has graciously stepped in to underwrite the shipping costs, but our needs for gifts are still at an all-time high.”

Being a Gold Star family member myself and understanding firsthand the cost of freedom, our family is incredibly grateful for families like the Rebacks’ and organizations who honor our fallen and the families left behind, year after year.  You can never replace what is lost, but love sure does go a long way. Christmas is the time of year when people all over the world express their love in the form of gifts and giving. I hope you will show your gratitude this Christmas and support Toys for Tots and Believe With Me.

If you are a Gold Star family, you can go to www.BelieveWithMe.com/sponsor to register your child. Organizations like these need your help to make a difference in the lives of these children who have already sacrificed so much.

 

Renee Nickell is the Author of “Always My Hero: The Road to Hope & Healing Following My Brother’s Death in Afghanistan” For more about Renee, go to www.reneenickell.com.

“At Least Ten” Reasons to Hire Veterans

“At Least Ten” Reasons to Hire Veterans

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Top ten lists…it seems like they’re everywhere, and about everything. For many of us, it’s a method of focusing and organizing so we can prioritize our time and energy on what we’ve deemed the ‘most important’. For others, it’s just a catchy way to encourage a reader or a viewer to linger a few more minutes.

Whether you cut your teeth on the humor of David Letterman’s regular ‘Top Ten List’ segment or you find such lists a really valuable use of your time, it should come as no surprise that examples abound on the top ten reasons employers should hire Veterans.

A quick Google search will pull up results from the U.S. Department of Labor (“Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Veteran”), BusinessInsider.com (“10 Reasons Companies Should Hire Military Veterans”), Military.com (“10 Reasons to Hire Vets”), MakePositive.com (“5 Good Reasons to Hire a Veteran”), and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (“Top Ten Reasons to Hire Members of the Guard and Reserve”). Some of those lists were compiled with the help of military veterans, some were put together by employers, and some were assembled by federal, state, and local agency personnel who have a stake in the employment assistance space. And the shocker is, all of them are correct, to some degree…it’s just a matter of perspective.

I put my first of such lists together in 2010, when I started working with the Show-Me Heroes Program, a partnership between the Missouri Division of Workforce Development and the Missouri National Guard that sought to help our state’s Veterans find meaningful employment. My original list expanded and contracted as I spoke with more and more employers and reflected on my own years of experience in the U.S. Army.

I often shared my list with job seekers from the military community that I came across, for this list of reasons to hire Veterans is as much for Veterans themselves as it is for business owners and hiring managers. Once employers ‘get it’, there’s not usually a need to go on and on with them. For those looking for a job, however, it’s important that they know how those in the employment assistance arena are advocating for them. They need to know that we’ve ‘talked the talk’, so they can put things in place to ‘walk the walk’, so to speak.

Once job seekers read through my list or any other, they should take inventory of the things that might very well make them the best candidate for the job. They should incorporate those soft skill sets and experiences into their resume, their cover letter, and answers to potential interview questions. That’s how they can communicate what they bring to the table. That’s how they can communicate how they can make a positive and lasting impact to that civilian employer’s workforce.

From the front lines to the assembly lines, much of the training, the challenges, the adversity…those things do, indeed, translate. I’ve seen it, and I’ve heard from countless employers that hiring someone with military experience made a sudden and lasting impact on their workforce.

So, here’s my perspective. I was initially going to say, “this list is in no particular order,” but in fact there is an order to my list. It’s an order that I put together based on nearly a decade of meeting with employers to discuss the prospect of hiring Veterans for their workforce. My Top Ten list includes these elements…

  1. Leadership Experience.
  2. Strong Personal Integrity.
  3. Ability to Work as a Team Member and Team Leader.
  4. Performance under Pressure.
  5. Possession of a Valid Security Clearance.
  6. Strong Work Ethic.
  7. Specialized Advanced Training & Technical Skills.
  8. Flexibility and Adaptability.
  9. Discipline.
  10. Attention to Detail.

When I first penned this list, I struggled with how short it was. I thought that there were many other attributes that were front and center in the people with whom I served…attributes and soft skills that could really make an impact. After taking some time to look through some old award narratives and evaluation reports, and touching base with some human resource managers that I knew, I felt that I could justify a few more.

  1. Ability to Work Efficiently & Diligently in a Fast-Paced Environment.
  2. Commitment to Excellence & History of Meeting Standards of Quality.
  3. Ability to Conform to Rules and Structure.  
  4. Initiative & Self-Direction.
  5. Respect for Procedures and Accountability.
  6. Strong Sense of Health, Personal Safety, and Property Standards.
  7. Ability to Give and Follow Directions.
  8. Hands-on Experience with Technology and Globalization.
  9. Systematic Planning and Organizational Skills.
  10. Accelerated Learning Curve with New Skills and Concepts.

But wait, there’s more. Some of us have more of these soft skills than others. Some of us have spent decades in uniform, others just a few years of an initial enlistment. Different Branches of Service have put emphasis on different areas in different times, and training that the Soldier received in the ‘70s is quite a bit different that what the Sailor received last year. So, I added a few more to the list…

  1. Diversity in Action and Strong Interpersonal Skills.
  2. Emphasis on Safety in the Workplace.
  3. High Levels of Maturity and Responsibility.
  4. Motivation, Dedication, and Professionalism.  
  5. Triumphant over Adversity.

I’m pretty sure I could keep going, but I’m going to stop right here. These are just a few reasons why employers value military experience in their workforce. If you’re a hiring manager, I’m sure you get my point. If you’re a job seeker from the military community, I encourage you to figure out which of the items in this ‘Top Twenty-Five’ list resonate most with you, at least in part because of the path you’ve followed. Be able to make the connection between items on this list and essential elements in the job description and do your best to communicate what you bring to the table…to the person that’s sitting across the table from you during your next job interview. Cheers!