1 Million Vets Will Need Jobs over the Next 5 Years: Vets Have Rights. Employers Have Incentives.

USERRA

By Debbie Gregory.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States military has taken on enough members in its ranks to sustain their campaigns in Iraq & Afghanistan. This includes the defense of U.S. borders & territories, and maintaining a presence on land, at sea and in the air for the rest of the world. Now that the U.S. is nearing the conclusion of 12 years of war, the swollen military ranks are being trimmed down. The men and women who dutifully wore their American Flag patches on their uniforms have begun to flood the already challenged job market. The government expects one million Veterans will be looking for civilian jobs within the next five years.

In 2011, President Obama challenged employers to hire 100,000 Vets by the end of 2013. The president’s call to arms inspired many employers to make it a point to hire Veterans. The president’s goal was reached in August, 2013, with 125,000 Vets finding employment.

In a continuing effort to ensure that newly discharged Vets find employment, it is vital for employers to know that there are incentives for companies who hire Veterans. Under the American Jobs Act, companies can qualify for tax credits if they hire Veterans. The Returning Heroes Program can give an employer a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring an unemployed veteran. The Wounded Warrior Program offers employers a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring an unemployed veteran with a service-connected disability.

And as of August, 2013, 200,000 private companies that have contracts with the government were required to demonstrate that they were making an effort to hire Vets, or else they may have jeopardized their contracts. With a projected goal of having eight percent of government contractors and subcontractors be comprised of Veterans, many companies have their own initiatives in these measures, coming up with their own campaigns to hire Veterans.

Veterans who held positions before they enlisted may also seek to get their old jobs back. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects individuals in the armed forces who leave their employment to serve in the military and return with an honorable discharge. In order to seek re-employment, the veteran must apply for reinstatement within 180 days following the end of service.

USERRA makes provisions for Veterans to be restored to the job and benefits level they would have achieved had they not left their employment for military service. If that is not possible, the service member must be provided with a comparable job. The act also states that returning service members cannot be fired without cause for a period of six months to a year (depending on their length of service) after they return to a job they held previously. For this period of time, they are exempt from “at will” employment standards.

Under USERRA, Veterans are protected against discrimination based on past or present military service in decisions regarding hiring, re-employment, retention in employment, promotion or any other employment benefits. Also, if the returning Veteran is disabled, then the employer must provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why Small Businesses NEED to Hire Vets

mc3

By Debbie Gregory.

Transitioning from Active Duty to civilian life is a stressful endeavor. Most short-timers are already concerned with checking out of their commands, making sure that their discharge paperwork is in order, getting “home”, and having a place to live once they get there. Some transitioning service members are fortunate to have jobs waiting for them. But a lot of new Veterans, especially those coming straight from a deployment, are left with the added stress of having to find work once they have been discharged.

Despite the fact that many large businesses have joined coalitions for hiring Veterans, and implement Veteran Friendly initiatives, unemployment is one of the key obstacles that Vets must overcome once they are discharged. In fact, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 Vets reached 10% in August, 2013.

While employers in law enforcement, security, and the medical field are recruiting and hiring Vets, many employers in the corporate world still believe that Veterans do not possess the required skills and experience to deem them worthy of hiring. To be honest, with the downsizing and outsourcing of Corporate America, their structure could not support the weight of hiring large numbers of Veterans anyway.

This is why Taylor Justice, an Army Veteran and Chief Business Officer of Unite Us, is encouraging small businesses to actively pursue hiring Veterans.

Unite Us is a technology platform that connects the military community to occupational resources. Small businesses could have the highest impact on the nearly one million newly discharged Vets within the next five years. There are approximately 23 million registered small businesses in the US. Found covering a variety of fields, including sales, accounting, engineering, marketing, machine operation, journalism and even management.

Veterans would be a great fit for small businesses who need employees who are used to stretching limited resources to their maximum capacity. Skills that are second nature to Veterans, like resourcefulness, adaptability, integrity and mission accomplishment, should make Vets highly desired by any small business owner.

The benefits of hiring Vets don’t stop at obtaining a quality employee. There are also financial benefits that reward companies for hiring Veterans. For example, the VA’s Special Employer Incentive program reimburses companies up to 50% of a Veteran’s wages for up to 6 months. And the Work Opportunity Tax Credit offers businesses up to $9,400 in tax credits for hiring Vets.

Small businesses are encouraged to educate and inform themselves on the benefits of hiring Vets. If small businesses begin hiring Vets en mass, they can be supporting those who served, help the economy by generating jobs, and help their business to grow and prosper through government incentives and obtaining quality employees. This is a win, win, win situation!

Military Service Difficult to Translate into Civilian Work Experience

help wanted

By Debbie Gregory.

Recruits are led to believe that the world will be theirs on a silver plate upon completion of their enlistments. They are told that they will go to school for free on the GI Bill, get high paying jobs, because everyone is hiring Vets, and that they will live the rest of their lives cruising down easy street due to their service.

The harsh reality is that civilian life is lot harder for Veterans than what they are prepared for. Before they are discharged, Vets attend TAP class, are given a few brochures, and are sent home with knowledge and experience that doesn’t always laterally equate to civilian work experience or translate well on a résumé.

The typical Post-9/11 Veteran is age 35 and younger, an age group that has a higher-than-average unemployment rate. Why is this able-bodied and proven group of men and women having trouble finding employment?

One of the major challenges that Veterans face is that they don’t have résumés that hiring managers understand. What kind of employment does two to five years in a military specific job class qualify you for? It’s not immediately clear how military experience prepares Vets to work in an office or professional setting.

“There’s a lack of understanding of the breadth of occupations and jobs that people hold in the military,” says James Schmeling, managing director and cofounder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

A 25-year-old Iraq war veteran may have significant leadership and technical experience, but may not have a two- or four-year college degree, two or more years of non-military work experience, or references from past employers.

Under most recruiting & job application criteria, “If you don’t have two years of experience in a particular area, you may never get a job interview,” says Rodney Moses, vice president of global recruitment for Hilton Worldwide.

It was apparent how this could be a major setback for Veteran employment applicants, with little or no private-sector experience. This year, Hilton Worldwide has announced its commitment to hiring 10,000 Veterans over the next five years. To accommodate this change, the company has adjusted their online career website to recognize military occupation codes as relevant experience.  Using the re-vamped website, Veteran Employment seekers can use their military job codes to find available positions that fit their skill set. Hilton Worldwide is also working to get the word out that they welcome veterans.

“If you think about the size and scope of some of our hotels, they’re like some of these large ships that are in the Navy,” Moses says.

JPMorgan Chase has also made a commitment to hire 100,000 Veterans by the year 2020. This goal led the company to create a whole new corporate office, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. JPMorgan also instituted a training regiment called “Military 101” that teaches their recruiters and managers about the military and teaches Veteran Employees about their company. JPMorgan also hired 15 recruiters whose sole job is to find Veterans to employ.

JPMorgan’s efforts are in support of a project called the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which now involves 113 private-sector companies who are sharing best practices on how to recruit, hire, and retain Veterans. By hiring Veterans, companies not only gain motivated employees; but the companies also receive public accolades for supporting the Vets, and federal tax credits of up to $9,600 for each Veteran that they hire, noted a 2012 McKinsey report.

Employment Protections Elusive for Returning Vets

employment-protections

By Debbie Gregory.

Where are the transitioning Veteran jobs, National Guard jobs, and Veteran employers that the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) promoted? Despite laws protecting the civilian jobs of National Guard members and reservists, more than 15,000 Service Members since 2001 have had to fight for their employment rights through official complaints that require tedious and sometimes expensive disputes.

In 1973, the DOD adopted the Total Force Policy, which recognized that active and reserve U.S. military forces should be readily available to support military operations. As a result, reserve forces were no longer considered to be forces of last resort; rather, they are now recognized as indispensable to the nation’s defense from the earliest days of a conflict.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.

The National Guard and Reserve are an integral part of our military. Almost half of the men and women serving in our armed forces are members of the National Guard and Reserve. If you are a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you may be worried about transitioning back into a civilian workplace. Will you return to the same position with the same responsibilities? Will your colleagues understand what you’ve been through and welcome you back? Will your company welcome you back?

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services, including those called up from the reserves or National Guard, and prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation. Employers are required to provide to persons entitled to rights and benefits under the USERRA, a notice of the rights, benefits and obligations covered under the act.

The federal government provides veterans a means to resolve USERRA complaints, first through the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, whose volunteers call employers, explain the law and try to resolve the matter. The Department of Labor (DOL-VETS) proudly Serves Veterans & Service Members! They provide resources and expertise to assist and prepare them to obtain meaningful careers, maximize their employment opportunities, and protect their employment rights.

Wounded Marine Helps Veterans Reach Dreams of Small Business Ownership

Kevin Blanchard

By Debbie Gregory.

A roadside bomb in Iraq claimed Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Blanchard’s leg and severely injured the other. While surgeons worked to fix the damage to his body, Kevin spent months deciding on and building a new career path.

Blanchard thought he wanted to open an environmentally friendly roofing company. His heart told him otherwise. He longed to support other Marines and service members as they navigated their new futures, especially as they embarked on the long and sometimes bumpy road of opening a business.

A chance meeting at a public affairs conference led him to the International Franchise Association, where he was eventually hired as a project coordinator, after making a connection at the conference. At the company, Blanchard works on the VetFran project, which helps Veterans who want to venture into a franchise ownership.

The VetFran program can provide discounts to veterans as they enter the franchise business, as well as online franchising courses, a skills and attributes assessment, finance assessment and access to the company’s mentoring network.

Blanchard said the program is designed to build confidence and financial stability in Veterans as they become franchise owners.

“You have to trust in yourself,” he said. “It is not always easy to start a business venture yourself. Have confidence in your abilities and be fearless, because you are taking a shot in the dark.”

Currently, Blanchard is working on a master’s degree in management, with the goal of owning several franchise units in the fitness industry. He also hopes to continue to help other veterans as they work toward their own goals of owning a business.

His advice to Veterans as they start down that path: “stay focused, identify a long-term vision as clearly as possible, and communicate that vision frequently to your team. They should also remember that businesses need to grow, and in order to grow a business you need a clear vision, financial stability and to work ‘on’ their business, and not always ‘in’ their business.,”  He continued, “This means constant sales and marketing, improving operational procedures and innovation. Think about it this way: if the goal is increased profit, then everything you do should directly increase profitability, if it doesn’t, then you should re-evaluate.”

Veterans Battle Joblessness

Veterans Battle Joblessness

By Debbie Gregory.

Various organizations have been formed to promote veteran employment. Military veterans who are transitioning into civilian life are still finding it difficult to land a job. Our military veterans have served this country faithfully, and deserve the best post military employment.

The Federal Government has a long and outstanding record of employing veterans. Veterans have technical skills in areas of critical importance, and many Veterans have the security clearances required for some Federal positions. Federal service provides a means for veterans to continue their noble service to this country.

Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.

Hiring Our Heroes has hosted more than 530 hiring fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Through December 31, 2012, more than 18,400 veterans and military spouses had obtained jobs.  As Hiring Our Heroes enters its third year, they are developing online programs to complement the hiring fairs in order to better address the systemic employment issues facing veterans, transitioning servicemembers and military spouses.

MilitaryConnection.com is a leader in the military and veteran realms for connecting prime military candidates with outstanding career opportunities in both the government and civilian sectors. The military jobs section of our site serves as a portal to many of the jobs available in the government sector and can serve as a crucial element in any job search. MilitaryConnection.com offers a multitude of career-related information and resources to those interested in pursuing a career in a government job after their active military service is complete. The best thing about using MilitaryConnection.com’s resources they are all free to users. Register as a job seeker to gain access to the thousands of jobs advertised daily on our site. It is free and can make a world of difference in your job search.

SBA Designs Program for Military Women

SBA Designs

By Debbie Gregory.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources to help women business owners to succeed, providing information on everything from how to register a woman veteran business to hiring a first employee. The SBA is available to help you start and grow a small business.

Along with the American Legion and Syracuse University, the SBA is offering a two-day entrepreneurial course titled “For Her Entrepreneurship – Resources, Opportunities, Experiences and Support.”  The course is specifically designed for women military veterans and military spouses, and is free of charge.

Going into business can help military women veterans transition back into civilian life. New research has found that of 800 female business owners with military experience, 46% said owning their own business has helped their transition to civilian life.

Most of the veteran woman entrepreneurs have credited their time in the military for inspiring them to start a business. Other responses showed that owning a small business held the same appeal and challenges to women veterans as to anyone else.

One program helping female vets overcome their business woes is the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). Created by a partnership between Capital One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence,  the WVEC is a training program for small businesswomen who are veterans or spouses of veterans, to help grow their business.

Another source for assistance in becoming a veteran business owner is the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA). The non-profit trade association serves the needs of the veteran and military business communities by uniting veterans and military business owners for connections and contracts with both private corporations and government agencies.

VAMBOA was founded by Debbie Gregory, who has years of successful interaction with the military and veteran communities and is dedicated to those who serve, past and present.

El Paso Electric (EPE) is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution service. EPE’s principal industrial and large customers include steel production, copper and oil refining, and United States military installations

Whenever economically feasible, EPE strives to contract with small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and/or service-disabled veterans. In the state of Texas, such firms are collectively known as historically underutilized businesses (HUBs).

EPE encourages its qualifying suppliers to obtain Small Disadvantaged Business, or HUBZone, certification from the SBA. They track and report on business done with companies that have SBA certification and on businesses owned by minorities, women and veteran women.

Contact the SBA to help you determine if your business is recognized as large or small. They will ask for your NAICS code, and your relevant revenue or employment data.

Translating Military Skills to Civilian Jobs

translating

By Debbie Gregory.

Hiring veterans enhances any workforce. Veterans possess strong leadership skills, strong work ethic, and team member skills. Veterans work well under pressure. However, transitioning from a veteran job to a civilian career can be challenging.

The challenge in finding employment most often is their ability to convert military skills to civilian job skills on a resume and during an interview.

Capital One Bank and Capital One Foundation has partnered with Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA.  Easter Seals Serving is an organization providing support services for individuals with disabilities and special needs, including Veterans, wounded warriors and their spouses, to transition to civilian life and navigate meaningful career paths.

The partnership is part of a national workforce development initiative by Capital One. The partnership will focus on helping match Veteran job seekers with higher quality jobs, and to train and retrain workers to compete for jobs based on local community demand.

The Veteran Staffing Network is a social enterprise business developed by Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA that builds on their experience in Veteran employment programs. By focusing squarely on the individual needs of employers and veterans, they can provide the best match for each position, while supporting our nation’s Veterans to successfully transition back to the civilian world.

Capital One’s commitment to Easter Seals will specifically support the organization’s new Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), a nonprofit staffing agency exclusively for Veterans and their families. The VSN will provide comprehensive, wrap-around support services to both the veterans transitioning to civilian life and the businesses seeking to hire military servicemen and women. These wrap-around services provide access to programs designed to meet additional needs that may impact access and retention of employment, including:

  • Operation Employ Vets, an internet-based employer training program designed to outline the benefits Veterans bring to an organization
  • Little Warriors and Child Care program, which is designed to meet the unique needs of wounded warriors and their children and spouses, addressing the urgent needs for family stability
  • Veteran Caregiver Training, a comprehensive, multi-modal (classroom, web-based, and DVD/workbook) training for caregivers of veterans,  addressing a wide range of critical caregiving topics.

MilitaryConnection.com is a leader in the military and veteran realms for connecting prime military candidates with outstanding career opportunities in both the government and civilian sectors. Please visit our website: https://militaryconnection.com/military-skills-translator.asp

Veterans jobless rate sees slight increase

veteran jobless

By Debbie Gregory.

The good news for jobless veterans is that Veteran unemployment rate is lower than that for the civilian population. Historically, veterans have enjoyed higher rates of employment than the general public. Military service is such an advantage that, since 2006, the veteran unemployment rate has averaged a full percentage point below the national unemployment rate. Sources for veteran jobs can be found on the Veteran Job Board.

On Friday, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the nation’s economy grew by 162,000 jobs.

Not only is the veteran unemployment rate lower than the national average, but perhaps even more significant is the fact that it’s trending distinctly downward—which is reflective of today’s recovering national economy.

The overall national unemployment rate for July was 7.4 percent, slightly down from June’s 7.6 percent rate.

For veterans, the July jobless rate is 6.4 percent for all generations, and 7.7 percent for Post-9/11-era veterans. In June, the unemployment rate for veterans of all generations was 6.3 percent. For post-9/11 veterans, the June rate was 7.2 percent.

The figures suggest that a vexing and stubborn trend of higher joblessness among veterans who left the military after September, 2001, has been reversed. It now appears that veterans are being hired at a faster rate than civilians.

Congress continues to work on legislation to help service members land post-service jobs. On July 24, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed the Veterans’ Employment Opportunities Act that takes several steps to create jobs or help veterans qualify. The bill, S.6, also creates two test programs.

One is a three-year program to provide subsidies to employers who hire veterans under the age of 35, or between the ages of 55 and 65. The second, also a three-year test, creates internships with private sector employers for veterans who are ages 30 and younger.

Bill S.6 – Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act of 2013,  amends the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 and the Wounded Warrior Act, extending both programs through 2016, as well as extending the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program

Research seems to suggest that over the long term, serving in the military is beneficial. People who have been in the military tend to be better employees, and earn more. American businesses are starting to realize that Veterans make good employees.

Georgia Eases License Requirements for Veteran Job Seekers

Georgia Eases

By Debbie Gregory.

Becoming a plumber, electrician or similar skilled laborer will be easier for veterans and their spouses who are looking to relocate to Georgia, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly there.

Officials expect more than 60,000 contractor jobs will need to be filled in Georgia by the year 2020. The state’s lawmakers want veterans and their family members to have a fair shot at filling those slots.

Effective July 1, the Veterans Licensure Bill will speed up the certification process for veterans and their family members seeking employment in five in-demand occupations: plumber, electrician, heating and air specialist, residential lighting and utility foreman.

Under the new statute, certification requirements, such as insurance costs and renewal fees, remain unchanged. However, veterans and their families no longer have to furnish reference letters or wait up to a year to take licensing exams to satisfy labor union regulations, as in years past. Instead, a committee will issue certification waivers and immediately approve their licenses if they meet or exceed the levels of training, experience or testing required for state permits.

“Georgia is a military state, with more than 770,000 veterans living here, but many of our veterans returning from deployment face challenges finding employment,” said Gov. Nathan Deal, whose office has been working on the legislation since last year. “The licensure bill will better serve our returning heroes by ensuring that they move into qualified trade positions more quickly upon their return.”

State Rep. John P. Yates, R-Griffin, was among the first lawmakers to sponsor the bill.

As a 91-year-old Army veteran, and chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives’ Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee, Yates said he knows the anxieties military officers face when exiting the armed services. Yates used his experiences to strengthen the state’s veteran employment laws.

“I knew from the moment the governor contacted me about this bill that it would be important to people in the service, because when I was off fighting the war, I was worried if I would get a decent job when I returned home,” said Yates, who served during World War II.

Officials said that by 2016, Georgia will see more than 60,000 members of the military leaving active duty for civilian life. Currently, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 66,000 veterans in the Augusta area, 27,000 of whom are under the age of 45. The state and federal government do not keep records on veteran unemployment in Augusta or Georgia.

“Like all bills, we have to get the word out before we can know what the impact will be,” Yates said of the success of the Veterans Licensure Bill. “At first glance, however, I think it can only help.”