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.

2017 Jobs For Heroes Act Helps Servicemembers Obtain Commercial Driving Licenses

cdl123

By Debbie Gregory.

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

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

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

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

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

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Non-profit Helps Veteran Farmers

farmer

By Debbie Gregory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Hire Vets Act Passes with Budget Bill

Hire vet act

By Debbie Gregory.

In what can only be called a great step forward in making sure that veterans are assisted in securing great jobs, California Republican Rep. Paul Cook’s “HIRE Vets Act” was signed into law.

The bill passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly in February and passed the Senate on unanimous consent in March. Rep. Cook had reintroduced this bipartisan bill earlier this year.

HR 244, Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017 is designed to promote the recruitment, hiring and retaining of veterans in the corporate sector.

“Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices,” said Rep Cook.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a two-tiered system, Gold and Platinum, associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

While the bill does not address recruitment, hiring or retention of disabled veterans, it is a step in the right direction.

Each year, nearly 200,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life. The HIRE Vets Act would recognize qualified employers for meeting certain criteria designed to encourage veteran-friendly businesses.

“Our military men and women have the skills and experience that are an asset to employers in every sector of our economy,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R.MO), a member of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Resources for Veteran Business Owners

vet owned

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veterans exhibit advanced team building skills, high levels of resiliency and strong organizational commitment, traits that contribute to making them successful entrepreneurs. There are numerous resources that assist veteran business owners thrive, including the following:

VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, is a non-profit trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners by providing networking, collaboration, mentoring, education, certification and advocacy. Membership is free.

American Corporate Partners is engaged in national corporate career counseling for returning military. The non-profit connects veterans to business leaders for mentorship and career advice.

BusinessUSA provides users with an interactive questionnaire that guides them to the most relevant federal, state, and local services, tools, trainings, and opportunities, assisting in starting or expanding a veteran owned small business.

DVBE, the Disabled Veteran Business Alliance, empowers, provides resources to, and works side-by-side with disabled veterans to promote and support them in establishing, maintaining and growing viable business enterprises.

EBV Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities offers training in entrepreneurship and business management to post-9/11 veterans with service related disabilities.

Federal Business Opportunities is a portal for all businesses, not just vet owned, looking for active federal contracting opportunities.

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. provides resources such as grants, scholarships and a fellowship program to veteran entrepreneurs, designed to build leadership qualities.

Institute for Veteran and Military Families provides a wide variety of resources geared towards military veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.

National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)  is the nation’s leading third party authority for certification of veteran owned businesses of all sizes.

National Veteran Small Business Coalition supports veteran owned small businesses by promoting policies that encourage participation of veteran owned businesses in federal contracting opportunities.

Patriot Boot Camp  focuses on helping active duty military, veterans and their spouses build technology companies. The three day event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.

Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a multitude of assistance to veterans in their local communities, including Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Boots to Business,

SDVOSBC , the National Center for Veterans Institute for Procurement, Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), and Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) .

Streetshares brings together business owners in search of funding and investors looking for both financial and social returns.

21 Gun Salute Initiative supports service-disabled veteran owned businesses with the goal of reserving 3% of contracts for service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.

VetBiz is a VA website that provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s verification process for veteran owned businesses looking to gain eligibility for the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

VetBizCentral is a veteran run site that assists veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services, from business education to financing opportunities.

Veteran Fast Launch Initiative provides mentoring and training, along with free software and other services, to military veteran entrepreneurs.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship  provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.

Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring services to help veteran entrepreneurs with everything from contractor registration to website creation.

Victory Spark is an accelerator program focused on startups led by U.S. military veterans. The program includes a 12-week mentor-driven Lean LaunchPad Program, along with grant funding for entrepreneurs who complete the program.

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.

Military Tapping Civilians with High Tech Skills

tech

By Debbie Gregory.

High Tech Jobs for Civilians and High Tech Jobs For Military are in huge demand. Many civilians with high tech skills are taking a break from their private sector jobs to help America’s technological fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Pentagon has ramped up its efforts to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy’s communications, recruiting, fundraising and propaganda.

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, said that Guard and Reserve members need to step up their technical expertise in digital forensics, math crypto-analysis and writing computer code.

“I would like to know every single person that has been trained as a certified ethical hacker,” he said.

The Army Reserve is starting a pilot program cataloging soldiers’ talents. Among 190,000 Army reservists, Nakasone said there might be up to 15,000 with some type of cyber-related skills. But there are legal and privacy hurdles, and any database hinges on reservists voluntarily and accurately providing information on their capabilities.

“We are at the forefront of one of the most transformative times in our Army’s history, operating in a dynamic and challenging domain that is revolutionizing the way our Army fights and wins,” Nakasone said. “Our focus will be on defending our networks, data and weapons systems, delivering effects against our adversaries in and through cyberspace, and designing, building, deploying and integrating capabilities for the future fight, spanning cyberspace, electronic warfare and information operations.”

Nakasone said others in the civilian high-tech industry are interested in helping.

While the Army has to compete for talent  with the private sector, which pays vastly better and doesn’t send you to be shot at, the military offers other incentives.

Besides the call to service, there’s the opportunity to do things that cyber professionals can’t do in civilian life. Well, they could, but if they did, they could be arrested for doing so.

The United States military is the largest user of technology worldwide. Additionally, there is a huge demand for military high tech jobs in both the private and government sectors. Military high tech jobs and Veteran High Tech Jobs pay some of the highest salaries.

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.

 

 

Best High Tech Jobs for Veterans

techjobs

By Debbie Gregory.

High tech jobs for veterans are a natural transition, given their abilities to take initiative, problem-solve and make decisions, skills that they honed during their military service.

Those who have served are also well-versed in computers.

For employers, hiring military veterans makes perfect sense. If you’re wondering what some of the top high-tech jobs for veterans are:

  • Project Manager is probably the most natural transition point for most service members. They are in charge of the planning and execution of a particular project, and the foundational skills required are quite similar to what many learn in the military.
  • Solutions Architect is a great position for problem solvers. Solutions architects work with their company’s clients processing feedback on their company’s product, and providing solutions based on that feedback.
  • Software Development Manager is a managerial position, a good use of leadership skills. There are a number of responsibilities, but the primary ones are to get a product out the door or deliver results to the customer.
  • Data scientists are in demand, and the position entails knowing how analyze and interpret complex digital data, such as the usage statistics of a website, especially in order to assist a business in its decision-making.
  • Analytics Managers design, configure, and maintain a data analysis tool that allows them to analyze data and make conclusions about it.
  • Software Engineers apply the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers or anything containing software work.
  • UX Designers enhance user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.
  • Mobile Developers will work in the development of mobile applications.
  • QA Managers monitor software testing processes or test new products.

If you have a technical background, consider one of these great career paths.

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.

 

The Best Answers for Law Enforcement Interview Questions

mil to law

By Debbie Gregory.

Law enforcement officers and military veterans have a lot in common: both wear their uniforms with pride; both are a part of a larger team of professionals protecting those who can’t protect themselves; both put their personal safety at risk; and both operate within a rigid command structure. There is a natural path that leads many military veterans to seek government jobs for veterans, including jobs in law enforcement when they transition to the civilian workforce.

Some pre-planning can help close the deal after the interview process to secure law enforcement jobs for veterans.

The interview is where you get your sole opportunity to make a good first impression. Preparing your answers to commonly asked interview questions can make or break your chances of getting the law enforcement job you are hoping for.

Why do you want this job? Don’t answer that you think it would be a cool job. Draw on those similarities between military service and law enforcement: the service to those who can’t protect themselves, the camaraderie, and being part of a team.

What are your salary requirements? When it comes to compensation, don’t give an exact number. You should be familiar with the salary range, and you can say that you expect to be paid the appropriate range for this job, based on the location and your experience.

What is your biggest weakness? Focus on something that you have worked on to improve. For example, if your tactical driving skills were less than what you were happy with, share some of the details of the advanced driving course you took.

Tell Us About You. If you’re asked to tell your interviewer about who you are, resist the temptation to give a chronology of your adult life. Instead, focus on your life experiences as they pertain to the job.

Why should you be hired? Again, call on your military service, stressing that you are a physically and mentally fit candidate. You have good decision-making abilities, common sense, and respect a paramilitary chain of command.

Why are you leaving your current job? If you’re transitioning out of the military, this is an easy question to answer. Remember, if you’re a veteran, you shouldn’t badmouth a previous boss. If you had one that was particularly challenging, focus on what you learned from that person.

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.

Hollywood & Veterans Join Forces On Panel

hollywood

By Debbie Gregory.

Recently the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) hosted a panel discussion of how veterans entering the film and TV industry can help bridge the military-civilian gap in society.

Prominent actors, executive producers and industry executives gathered at Paramount Studios, joined by some 300 military veterans who are both in and entering the film industry. Many of the veterans in the room were aspiring actors, writers, and directors.

The military-civilian divide is well documented, as 84 percent of post-9/11 veterans believe that the American public has no understanding of the challenges facing this generation of veterans and military families.  More than almost any other story-telling medium, the television and film industry can play a powerful and enduring role in shaping the cultural narrative that will come to define this group of veterans, and tell the stories of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation of veterans.

The panel of experts included Contessa Brewer (moderator), Syracuse University alum and NBC reporter, actor and veteran J.R. Martinez, NCIS Executive Producer Scott Williams, and David Gale, CEO of We Are The Mighty and former President of MTV Films.

The panel also encouraged the veterans to seek out other mediums, including YouTube, webisodes, documentaries, and Snapchat.

Scott Williams shared that the NCIS crew has around 100 veterans working as grips, camera operators, and in construction.

Wounded warrior, motivational speaker and Dancing With the Stars winner J.R. Martinez, who got his acting break playing Brot Monroe on All My Children, explained it’s important to get past the uniform and see the human being. “A veteran is more than a veteran. A veteran is a son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother. There are dangers in stereotyping; we need to understand who they are as a person.”

Another theme is how Hollywood needs to change how it thinks of military veterans.  “Right now veterans are used as advisors on specific projects,” said Gale.

The IVMF endeavors to advance the post-service lives of America’s veterans and their families. IVMF’s professional staff delivers unique and innovative programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training to post 9/11 veterans and active duty military spouses, as well as tailored programs to veterans of all eras.

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.

 

Jobless Rate Rises for Post 9/11 Veterans in January

unemployment

By Debbie Gregory.

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a program giving employers tax credits to encourage veteran employment. Other programs also have encouraged companies and government agencies to hire veterans.

In spite of those efforts, the unemployment rate for the youngest generation of veterans jumped to 6.3 percent in January, the fourth time in the last seven months that group’s figure has been substantially higher than the overall veteran rate.

The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect the last month of President Barack Obama’s time in office, represent about 211,000 Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work. That’s almost 46 percent of the total of all U.S. veterans filing for unemployment benefits in January.

Young veterans, the ones between the ages of 18 and 34, face challenges in the employment marketplace that non-veterans never have to face and that older veterans have already overcome.

In many cases, it is hard to translate the work that was done in the service to a civilian equivalence. There are also few calls for riflemen, artillery spotters, missile technicians and many other military positions.

The January 2017 veteran unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, compared to the non-veteran rate of 5.0 percent. In December, the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans’ rate was 5.7 percent.

With additional training and responsibility, the unemployment rate of young veterans should be lower than the rest of the population. That’s why the higher number of unemployed younger veterans does raise concerns.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics officials estimate that nearly 9.8 million veterans are in the U.S. workforce today, with roughly 32 percent of them having served in the military after 2001.

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.