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.

GI Bill for On-the-job Training

otj training

By Debbie Gregory.

When separating from their military service, there are many newly-minted veterans who aren’t desirous of attending a traditional college or university to cash in on their veteran school benefits.  A better fitting veteran education option for them might be on-the-job (OJT) training or an apprenticeship program.

Both OJT and apprenticeship programs are available for veterans using their VA GI Bill education benefits, one of the most valuable veteran benefit.

These programs give veterans the opportunity to learn a trade or skill through training on the job participation rather than attending formal classroom instruction. The programs generally consist of entering into a training contract for a specific period with an employer or union. At the end of the training period, the veteran has earned job certification or journeyman status.

Usually, employers pay a reduced OJT/apprenticeship wage, which must be at least 50% of journeyman’s wage, with periodic wage increases, unless it’s a government program. By the last full month of training, the wage must be at least 85% of the wage for a fully trained employee.

In addition to the wages paid by the employer, veterans who are participating in an approved program can use their GI Bill benefit and receive a tax-free stipend equivalent to the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) of an E-5 with dependents.  However, the stipend is reduced 20% every six months as the Veteran’s wages regularly increase until the Veteran has attained journeyman status and pay.

If traditional college/university education, OTJ training or an apprenticeship doesn’t fit the bill, one other option is available: beneficiaries can use their educational assistance to pursue accredited independent study programs at career and technical schools that provide postsecondary level education and postsecondary vocational institutions. This change went into effect August 16, 2017.

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.

 

New Type of Soldier Needs a Renewed Veteran Support Program

KotickForCongress-MichaelKotick-web

By Michael Kotick

We are in the longest standing war in our nation’s history where post-9/11 service members engage in multiple deployments in short succession, making the modern tour of duty as unique as the attention these individuals need upon their return civilian life. For many, this is the toughest fight.

Orange County has the fourth largest veteran population in California, and our state leads the nation in job initiatives for returning soldiers. A daunting 75% of our own Orange County veterans have said that they are having trouble adjusting to civilian life. One in four of our veterans lives below the poverty line, making up 20-percent of Orange County’s homeless population. The findings are highlighted in the first, in-depth assessment on the state of Orange County veterans. Released in 2015 by the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, most of the 1,200 veterans interviewed expressed genuine surprise at how hard it was to find meaningful work, despite being told they would be highly sought by civilian employers.

On the flip side of this equation, I gained extraordinary insight from an employer’s perspective when I facilitated an innovative agreement between the US Army PaYS Program and Hyundai Motor America. We matched qualified military technicians to auto-technician jobs after honorable discharge “[becoming] the key player between the Corporate Automotive culture [at Hyundai] and the Army’s regulations,” wrote Cherrie Warzocha, Sergeant First Class, US Army Recruiting Command – Ret. The program has now celebrated over a decade of success.

Unfortunately, opportunities such Hyundai’s are frequently overlooked. Colonel Arnold V. Strong (U.S. Army – Ret), an endorser of my campaign has given me further insight to the challenge. Strong served in the US Army for over thirty years and retired this June at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA, as a decorated veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Referring to himself as one of the ‘fortunate ones’ he successfully transitioned to a high profile job as the Director of Communications for one of Southern California’s fastest growing Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies. What is missing, said Strong, is not only the guidance and support in finding employment but also ‘transition’ in its own right.
Keeping in mind that 70 percent of returning soldiers arrive in Orange County without a job, it can tend to be the only point of focus by those who see veteran support as a critical national issue. However, in-line with USC’s Orange County Veterans Study, we know that proposed solutions need to be more comprehensive and cover the entire transition back to civilian life. My veteran action plan is comprised of two main areas of support and development:
(1) a Pre-Retirement Transition Program with an actionable employment plan and;
(2) the creation of a structured network for support services.

The move from a structured military way of life to a relatively unstructured civilian lifestyle can be overwhelming, confusing and require a significant adjustment for veterans who have spent years serving our country in a very different way than many of us live our day-to-day lives.

A six-month Pre-Retirement Transition Program would dedicate time to engage in active planning around housing, budgeting, location of key services, and job preparedness in anticipation of future discharge. This structured roadmap will help the servicemember prepare for a new civilian way of life, and identify a clear path to a job or career.
Dedicated focus on the jobs component of the pre-retirement transition program would ensure veterans are supported when sourcing and securing their new civilian careers. Veterans describe the current employment system as overwhelming. Despite the best of intentions by countless initiatives, “they [still] don’t know where to turn” and feel frustrated as they are referred from one employment website to another, with hours spent filling out application forms to little result. Some feel betrayed. Others — directionless, completely give up.
The jobs component of the pre-retirement program needs to include:
(a) identifying the desired field and its necessary qualifications;
(b) enrolling in education and/or retraining prior discharge;
(c) actively cultivating prospective employers, including those who are “friends of veterans”;
(d) granting leave time so job interviews can be done face-to-face (video or in-person);
(e) coaching veterans on how to articulate their military experiences to employers. Veterans need
to be able to advocate for themselves in thoughtful and persuasive ways; and,
(e) identifying “transition mentors” for transitioning service members to have a structure of
accountability, feedback, and a rewarding emotional connection as they were accustomed to
while in active service; Leadership, technical skills, discipline, a strong work ethic and teamwork crafted by the finest fighting force in the world, are exceptional attributes and are of extraordinary value to civilian employers.

John Newman, founder and executive director of the nonprofit ArmedForce2Workforce wrote, “When you consider the combination of value that vets bring, recent positive trends in the economy overall and the current level of goodwill toward those who served, the rates of veteran unemployment should be close to zero.” But they are not.

While there are numerous services available to veterans, there is glaring lack of coordination and communication. I faced this same challenge in a Fortune 500, where the mass introduction and investment in programs tied to strategic priorities create fragmentation and sometimes confusion. By creating a unified, structured information network, veterans, agencies, and employers will be able to:
(a) collaborate efforts across the community in the areas of jobs and health services;
(b) create and initiate best practices for housing, budgeting, and general transition information;
and,
(c) share measurement and accountability, as more is learned from veterans studies across the country.

133,000 veterans now call Orange County home. If community organizations and leaders, service providers, nonprofits and policy makers create a comprehensive model — or as the USC study says, “a targeted intervention leading to collective impact” — then the 6-thousand veterans who relocate here by next year, and the thousands who will arrive in the years after that, will have more than a fighting chance — and the hero’s welcome they and their families deserve.

We need to thank our Veterans for the risks that they have taken for our country in defending our freedom by showing gratitude through actions – not just words. #StandUnited

About the Author

Michael Kotick developed his relationship with the veteran community well over a decade ago, pioneering an innovative collaboration between the automotive community and veteran mechanics, a program that is still in operation today. Now, a Democratic Congressional Candidate in Orange County (CA-48), home to the 4th largest veteran population in California, Michael is committed to making a positive impact. For more visit: https://www.KotickForCongress.com

Report Finds Young Veterans More Successful Than Their Civilian Peers

young vets

By Debbie Gregory.

There has been a lot of discussion about why veterans are great employees, why the companies who hire veterans are more successful, and why they also make great entrepreneurs. Now a new study released by The Graduate Center at the City University of New York Young has found the young veterans are faring better in life than their civilian counterparts.

The study found that post-Sept. 11 era veterans are better educated, better paid and better off than many of their civilian peers.

“The data indicate that between 2005 and 2015 employment, income, and educational attainment rates were consistently higher, and poverty rates consistently lower, than general nationwide rates” for these veterans.

Despite a national recession during that period, Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans showed a near-constant employment rate of about 78 percent, significantly above the 70 percent of the total civilian population.

The median household income for post-Sept. 11 veterans was nearly $74,000 a year in 2005, and the non-veteran average was approximately $67,000. In 2015 the difference was even more pronounced, with the veteran average reaching $80,000, while the non-veterans rate only rose to $68,000.

Some 12 percent of young adults in the U.S. failed to graduate from high school, but only 3 percent of veterans failed to graduate. And when it comes to earning a college degree, 47 percent of young veterans earned a college degree compared to 37 percent of their civilian peers.

“Often, service in the armed forces can be viewed as a ‘dead end’ path reserved for those with fewer options,” the report stated. “But as this report suggests, it can also be packaged as a statistically proven path to higher income, educational attainment, and quality of 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.

Veteran Wins $170,000 Judgement Over USERRA Violations

wright

By Debbie Gregory.

A former Jamestown, NY police officer has been awarded a settlement of $170,000 in damages from the city after a judge found he was discriminated against by the police department because of spending time away from the force due to his service in the Army Reserve.

Timothy Wright was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and served two six-month deployments to Afghanistan, beginning in 2009.

In 2007, Wright, who is now the chief of police in the Town of Carroll, filed a claim under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), saying the department did not include his terms of military service when calculating his vacation time. He claimed he was also denied a promotion. USERRA exists to protect military reservists against such discrimination.

In 2014, a Supreme Court jury in Chautauqua County ruled in Wright’s favor regarding the vacation time that was unfairly calculated, but ruled against him re: the missed promotion. The city and police department moved to appeal the decision but then dropped the action.

On July 17, State Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita awarded Wright $44,656 in compensation, an additional $44,656 in damages and more than $83,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

In 1994, when Congress enacted USERRA, it stated explicitly that veterans and service members cannot waive any of their rights under USERRA, that they have a right to enforce their rights in federal court, and that they cannot be required to arbitrate their USERRA claims. USERRA is part of the U.S. government’s effort to ensure that military personnel are not penalized for serving their country.

The ruling is a victory for all veterans who may experience discrimination when they return to their jobs after their military service.

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.

Supreme Court Asked to Take Up Workplace Rights for Reservists

supreme court

By Debbie Gregory.

Lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to decide whether military reservists’ unfair dismissal claims can be forced into arbitration by their civilian bosses.

Because the case involves veterans’ rights, the legislators are hopeful that the Supreme Court will show appreciation for our citizen soldiers by allowing them to legally stand up for their workplace rights.

The filing’s intention is to overturn a previous appeals court ruling against Kevin Ziober, a Navy reservist who sued his employer for firing him before his year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

In mid-May, Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal spearheaded the filing of a amici curiae brief , also known as a “friend-of-the-court” brief on behalf of  himself, six fellow senators and 13 House members.

The members of Congress urged the Supreme Court to reaffirm a longstanding principle that all veterans’ rights laws must be interpreted for the benefit of veterans. It is also imperative to protect veterans and servicemembers against waiving any of their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), including their procedural enforcement rights like the right to file an action in federal court.

“They’re serving and sacrificing so we have these rights, and then they come home and they are denied those very rights that they are fighting to uphold.”

The aforementioned case alleges that in 2012, real estate company BLB Resources told Ziober he was out of a job. The company denied wrongdoing, saying it terminated Ziober for sub-par performance on a federal contract assignment, and not for his deployment.

Upon returning to the U.S., Ziober brought a lawsuit against BLB under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) a 1994 law banning companies from discriminating against employees for taking time away from work to serve in the reserves.

If the Supreme Court accepts the lawmakers’ request, it could finally end what has become a pain point for employment in several industries.

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.