Colonel Larry Phelps Finds Employment After Service to Our Nation


When the lights click on at the Contract Professionals, Inc. (CPI) offices long before 8 a.m., the CPI staff sets to work with one goal in mind; to put veterans to work. A global staffing top secret cleared technical solution company founded by Steve York in 1982, and headquartered in Waterford, Michigan; CPI has spent more than 34 years partnering with companies to provide work to veterans after they have been discharged from the military.

“As a veteran and the CEO of CPI, I feel a deep obligation to ensure that my fellow veterans are given the opportunity to thrive long after their military careers have ended,” said York. “When they succeed in the civilian marketplace, then CPI has done its job.”

Of particular note is the successful placement and career advancement of Colonel Larry Phelps. One of ABC’s Persons’ of the Week 2006, Colonel Phelps has made a career out of making a difference.

Responsible for notifying, comforting and working with families when a soldier loses their life in the line of duty or if they are lost in battle, Colonel Larry Phelps was the commander of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Rear Detachment. In short, he was responsible for the 18,000 families left behind as the troops went over seas to Iraq. Part of his job was to manage the process for those who made the supreme sacrifice. But more than the bearer of bad news, Colonel Phelps cared for every family member, attending to every possible need.

Colonel Phelps handled everything from getting lawns mowed to managing financial issues. He was also the last person to see every soldier before their deployment. “We really thought it was very important for each soldier to see the rear detachment commander as they boarded the plane. It was a tangible sign that we were taking care of them and their families. We took it all very seriously,” said Colonel Phelps. “We wanted to be there and give reassurance and shake their hands. If there was uncertainty in their eyes, we wanted them to know that we were standing watch.”

Colonel Phelps’s position was created after the first Gulf War. Before then, all of the care giving was the responsibility of the wives and husbands left behind.

Colonel Phelps enlisted in the Army in 1978. For the next 32 years, he would develop a highly advanced skill set, which would ultimately position him as an extremely desirable candidate for employment in the business sector.

As a Commander of a Sustainment Brigade, his last position in the Army, Phelps honed his skills in supply, maintenance, transportation, human resources, finances, health services, field services, and the entire process at it relates to the contracting and procurement of business.

Colonel Phelps also commanded various units throughout his Army career, which sharpened his leadership and personnel management skills. I rely on my leadership skills on a regular basis, now that I’m in the business community. I learned a great deal about planning, resourcing and directing large groups of people, in order to accomplish a common mission,” said Colonel Phelps. “The Army is a team. And team building is an important skill set, which you acquire and refine as you progress up the ranks in the Army. These leadership and team building skills are every bit as necessary in the business community.”

During his tenure in the Army, Colonel Phelps was also deployed on several combat tours. He reflects now on his time in the line of fire as an opportunity to differentiate between the important and the critical. “That sense of urgency and my ability to prioritize has certainly served me very well.”

Now retired from the United States Army, Phelps understands the power and synchronicity of finding and developing the right relationships at the right time. After all, he had spent part of his military career managing the lives of those who really needed his support. He was a friend, confident, brother, father, and the all around “go to” person rolled into one.

After completing his service in the Army, Phelps found himself in the unlikely position of looking for his own mentor; someone who could help him transition back into a civilian job. More specifically, he was looking for a way to put the expertise he had gained in the Army to good use. “As a veteran, it’s sometimes difficult to just get your foot in the door in the very competitive marketplace,” said Colonel Phelps. “I think that’s exactly what CPI can do. They can open doors and connect you to great companies.”

When Colonel Phelps got in touch with CPI, they knew he was uniquely qualified to take the skills and discipline he developed during his years of service, and apply it to the civilian workplace. Because CPI understands how to help veterans make a smooth transition from active duty to civilian employment, CPI’s team of recruiters set to work to find him the perfect fit.

Although smaller in scale, CPI is joining Fortune 500 companies across America in a concerted effort to employ veterans. The 100,000 Jobs Mission will hire an additional 100,000 U.S. military veterans by 2020. The coalition consists of companies from every industry including Detroit-based GM, BAE Systems, IBM, Aetna, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Halliburton, Western Union, Bridgestone, Merck, Grainger and several more. And there’s more. Companies like Disney, Starbucks and Capital One Financial all have their own programs that seek to target, train and employ veterans. CPI is proud to share the same vision of some of the best-known companies in the world.

“This didn’t happen by accident,” said Colonel Phelps. “CPI was instrumental in helping me find a company where I was given the room to lead and grow. My Army team refined my leadership and technical skills during my time in the service, and now my employer, a large, DOD Michigan supplier is honing those skills even further.”

After accepting a contract position with CPI, Colonel Phelps went on to receive a direct hire position as a Senior Logistics Analyst. “CPI made it just as simple to move on to the DOD supplier, as it did for me to hire on to CPI in the first place, said Colonel Phelps. “I was armed with the great training and the experiences I had while I was employed as a contractor. After that, I felt fully prepared to take a full time direct position with my employer.”

Phelps was honored to accept an offer of full time, direct employment. “I think there were several factors that played into that decision. My time with CPI was one of them.”

Because CPI has employed over 2000 veterans since the year 2000, the company has already been leading the way. It would follow that CPI would join the nation wide movement to educate, train and provide employment to veterans. CPI is working everyday to give our veterans the opportunities they require to thrive in the new economy.

“We have a real opportunity to help companies increase their productivity and profitability. Veterans like Colonel Phelps bring a strong work ethic and the ability to seek out and fix weaknesses,” said Jim Cowper Pesident, CPI. “We aren’t doing anyone any favors. Putting veterans to work makes our economy stronger.”

One of the biggest challenges veterans face is the ability to find work that maximizes their skill set. Many vets go back to work but report that they are being under utilized. They take the job because they need to, not because they’ve been given the proper pay or the ability to utilize their advanced skill sets.

“CPI already has strong history of putting veterans to work. It’s simply a matter of bringing it to scale,” said Cowper. “Colonel Phelps is a perfect example of where opportunity, skill and positioning meet. We worked extremely hard to ensure his transition to contract work at the DOD supplier went flawlessly. We are very proud of the outcome.” Find out more about CPI at their website

4 Financial Tips for Transitioning Veterans and Spouses

Financial Tips

By Alecia D. Blair

Whether you have spent four or 24 years following your service member around the country and world, don’t forget that your spouse’s separation or retirement from the military is your military transition, too.

During a military transition, you will tackle challenges pertaining to your family’s financial readiness (spending plan and emergency savings), your career, and your own retirement savings. But don’t sweat it. As a military spouse and planner extraordinaire, you’ve been coming up with plans A, B, C, and D for years. You will take on this challenge just as you have any other in the military—with resilience and grace. You’ve got this, and we are here to help.

Check out four tips to help you pre-plan for your transition away from military life.

1 Revisit the family spending plan.

Does your family already have a spending plan (budget)? If so, that’s great. It’s time to adapt it. If you don’t have a spending plan, having a realistic, conservative one is essential to a smooth military transition.

Check out the Transition toolkit on for tips to compare your service member’s military to civilian compensation and benefits. If you need to start from scratch, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Check out SaveandInvest’s and USAA Education Foundation’s information on spending plans/worksheets.

When modifying your spending plan for a military transition, you will be losing tax breaks when you transition out of military life, so take this into account. If you need a second set of eyes on your spending plan (and financials in general), visit your installation’s financial readiness/education office and speak to a personal financial counselor for free.

Remember, communication is key. Make sure you and your service member are on the same page about the family financials.

2  Do you still need an emergency fund? Yes! Now more than ever.

Having a healthy emergency fund is always in style, especially if your family is moving beyond the military.

The benefits your service member receives (housing, health care, taxes, etc.) will change a lot in the civilian world, so having at least three to six months of emergency savings will help your family better handle financial surprises instead of taking on debt. As FINRA Investor Education Foundation plainly puts it, “Expect to pay more money out of pocket than you’re used to.”

3  Now’s your time. What do you want to do?

Chances are you’ve followed your service member around from duty station to duty station for a while. As a result of his or her service, your professional and/or education options have been limited. So now may be the time to ask yourself, “What do I want to do?”

Is now the right time to return to school? In many cases, a service member can transfer his or her GI Bill to a spouse or dependents, so look into this option. Proceed with caution before taking on debt to return to school. Plot your course carefully, and look for creative ways to reduce education expenses whenever possible.

Is a career or job change in your future? If so, dust off that résumé and polish it up. Many military installations offer free resume and job preparation services, so visit a location close to you.

4  Are you contributing toward your own retirement? You should be.

If you aren’t already contributing to your own retirement account, now is a great time to do this for many reasons:

  • Employment changes may allow you to save more toward retirement.
  • There are often tax advantages to saving toward retirement.
  • Your retirement savings account will help supplement your service member’s retirement, which means a higher standard of living in your golden years.
  • Plus, seeing your own retirement savings account increase is empowering.

Look for opportunities to invest in your retirement through your employer’s sponsored plan or through an individual retirement account (IRA), among other options. And if you’re already saving for retirement, can you now afford to save more?

Change is constant in the military. A military transition is a major change for you, too. This is a perfect opportunity for you, as a military spouse, to ask yourself what’s next and guide your family into this next chapter and toward a solid financial future.

About the Author
Alecia D. Blair is the Military Saves communications project manager, AFC® candidate, and FINRA Foundation fellow.


Long Beach Native helps train the Navy’s best pilots at TOPGUN


FALLON, Nev. – In Nevada’s high desert is the Navy’s premiere tactical air warfare training center, home to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and it’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, known to the world as TOPGUN. A 2000 Narbonne High School graduate and Long Beach, California, native is part of the Navy’s finest aviation fighter training facility in the world.

Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Blackman is an aviation machinist’s mate working with the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. As a Navy aviation machinist’s mate and first class petty officer, Blackman is responsible for supervising the maintenance of aircraft engines and their related systems while ensuring quality control and safety.

“I joined the Navy for a lifestyle change, to expand my horizons and explore new opportunities,” said Blackman.

TOPGUN began 48 years ago with the determination of nine pilots, the skepticism of the government and almost no budget as history would recall. In the early years it turned the tide of a losing air war in Vietnam, revolutionized military doctrine, inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and attracted and trained the best allied pilots and air crew from all over the world.

Blackman plays a crucial role in the overall mission that flies over 5,000 adversary sorties per year in support of the Navy and Marine Corp Active and Reserve fleet and replacement squadrons, carrier air wings and marine aircraft groups including the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National guard and Canadian Forces.

“Nowhere in the world does the Navy have the ability to train as we do in NAS Fallon,” said NAS Fallon Commanding Officer, Capt. David Halloran. “The Navy specifically chose NAS Fallon as the location for Top Gun and the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Ground Mobility Training Center because of the desert climate, mountainous terrain, and sophisticated ranges available in northern Nevada.  Every Carrier Air Wing and Navy Seal Team is required to receive the essential training provided here prior to being deployed in theater.”

According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is highly competitive and exposes Navy and Marine Corp pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation lead by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor. “I’m the first in my family to serve in the military,” said Blackman. “I’m proud of my five Navy Achievement Medals and the being a part of the humanitarian assistant response after the tsunami in Thailand.”

Blackman also said they are proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.

The future of U.S. aviation depends on the Navy’s ability to achieve their vision for defeating tomorrow’s air threats with the support of the ground crews and pilots.

“Serving in the Navy gives me the opportunity to provide for my family,” added Blackman. “I love the camaraderie and close-knit community.”

Lt. Bridget Mitchell, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by-
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward

Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.


Best Jobs For Veterans 2018

Best Jobs for Veterans

Eight of the best civilian jobs for transitioning veterans have been identified by one of the top job search sites, CareerCast. These include registered nurse, financial advisor, info security analyst and operations research assistant, among others.

“There are many benefits to hiring veterans,” says Kyle Kensing, online content editor, CareerCast. “The discipline, teamwork and leadership qualities emphasized in the military directly translate to the civilian workforce. Skills gained during military service are in high demand.”

Public and private sector efforts to recruit and employ veterans have paid major dividends in lowering the unemployment rate for veterans. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2016 that of the approximately 21.2 million men and women with military experience, an unemployment rate that hovered near 10 percent just seven years ago has been cut almost in half.

The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act was designed for the Department of Labor to match veterans with career paths based on their responsibilities while in service. Private-sector companies are also launching their own hiring initiatives to match veteran job seekers with open positions.

Growing emphasis on technological skills in the military translate well to a growing market for IT professionals. Information Security is an area of growing importance in both military and government matters. Veterans who work specifically in IT security during their service can effectively translate their skills into government positions of the same nature.

Another area of emphasis in military service is healthcare. Nursing positions are also in demand for enlisted personnel, and many states allow veterans with experience as nurses in the military to apply that experience to civilian certification.

For those veterans looking to use their civilian careers to make a positive impact for others in the military, careers in management and finance offer great opportunities. Businesses tailoring their outreach to the veteran community are increasingly turning to veterans for management consultant and operations research analyst positions.
Financial advisor is the No. 1 most in-demand field in the CareerCast Veteran Network job database. Veterans with a background in mathematics and finance can work directly with military families to help them protect their investments and savings.

The improved employment landscape for veterans isn’t merely a boon to one section of the workforce. Veterans bring skills that greatly benefit employers, making them prime candidates in a variety of fields.

Here are eight of the best jobs for veterans:

Profession Annual Median Salary* Growth Outlook*
Financial advisor $89,160 30%
Information security analyst $90,120 18%
Management consultant $81,320 14%
Nurse practitioner $104,740 31%
Operations research analyst $78,630 30%
Registered nurse $67,490 16%
Sales manager $113,860 5%
Software engineer $100,690 17%

The best jobs for veterans were selected from the 200 professions covered in the Jobs Rated report as a good match based on their responsibilities and skills gained while in service.

Wages and projected growth outlooks through 2024 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To read the full report, visit

Army Sergeant First Class Wade Mitcheltree Receives ELAN-Controlled Custom Smart Home from the Gary Sinise Foundation

Gary Sinise Foundation

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, February 6, 2018 — During his second tour in Afghanistan in 2012, U.S. Army SFC Wade Mitcheltree was severely injured by an IED, resulting in the loss of both his legs and his right arm below the elbow. When Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) learned of Mitcheltree’s bravery, they awarded him a brand new specially adapted smart-home in Tigard, Oregon, that allows him to independently manage day-to-day tasks with ease.

Randy Reagan of Quadrant Systems, the integration firm that managed the project’ technology integration, knew that an ELAN Entertainment and Control System was the best smart home platform for Mitcheltree and his family. “ELAN is by far the most intuitive control system out there,” Reagan said. “It’s very simple for the homeowner to understand how to use it without having an expert show them. The icons are large, and the lighting controls are laid out on the touch panel the same way they are on the keypads on the wall. It’s perfect for Wade, his wife, and his two sons.”

Reagan built the home’s system around an ELAN gSC10 controller, with an ELAN g1 for secondary control and an ELAN S86A for audio distribution. Multiple ELAN touch panels and remotes were integrated throughout the two-story residence so that the Mitcheltree family can access the platform from any room of the house at any time. With just the tap on a screen, the family can manage the home’s audio, video, lighting, climate and security systems.

“Even if Wade is on the second floor, he can have full control over the whole house using any of the touch panels or his own iPad,” said Reagan. “If someone rings the doorbell, he can easily see and talk to them through the ELAN Intercom, and even unlock the door. We set up ‘away’ and ‘welcome’ scenes on the ELAN system, so that he can easily configure the entire home with just the touch of a button.”

For entertainment, Quadrant Systems also installed a robust multi-Gary Sinise Foundationroom audio system, which includes of SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and Sunfire subwoofers. The entire system is easily controlled through the ELAN platform, so each member of the family can stream any music they choose throughout the whole house or just in one room. This versatility, along with the crystal-clear audio from SpeakerCraft and Sunfire, makes their new home the perfect place to entertain friends and family.

Reagan and his team also installed an impressive security system that Mitcheltree can arm and manage through both a physical keypad and the ELAN platform. It includes a complete and comprehensive DSC system, and is also connected to the motorized locks on the exterior doors. “Through ELAN, Wade and his wife can easily secure their house from their bed or anywhere in the world using their iPads,” said Reagan. “This gives them an incredibly important peace-of-mind and an enhanced sense of security, which is especially important as they have children.”

Judith Otter, Executive Director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, emphasized how important the customized features of the home were to Mitcheltree and his family. “They’ve been through a long and emotional journey working toward Wade’s full recovery, and this home allows them to relax and worry less about daily tasks,” Otter said. “The ELAN system is especially important for Wade, as it allows him nearly complete independence, which otherwise may not have been possible. We’re grateful for the involvement of everyone behind the ELAN brand as we work to continue providing American heroes with a completely customized specially adapted smart home.”

For high-res images of the home, click here. To watch a video of the home dedication, click here.

About ELAN
ELAN, now part of Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award and continues to expand its intuitive functionality. To learn more, visit

About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed more than 4 million connected systems and over 20 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, GoControl®, Linear®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers and consumers.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC is a subsidiary of Melrose Industries PLC, a global investment company specializing in acquisition and performance improvement. With over 50 years of innovation, NSC is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit


PAVE Employment Event Series Connects Veterans to a World of Opportunity


WASHINGTON, D.C.—PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), a leading provider of vocational counseling and job placement assistance for veterans a flagship program under Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), will be conducting six PAVE Employment Events that bring veterans and transitioning service members together with prospective employers to overcome the significant barriers they face in the workplace. Events will be held in key markets across the U.S. in 2018.

PAVE is open to all veterans, their spouses and the caregivers of disabled veterans. PAVE counselors work to connect those individuals with a network of over 1,200 corporate partners committed to supporting veterans and their families. Services are offered to veterans, spouses and caregivers at no cost and once a participant joins the program, they are a partner for life. This ensures the long-term success of the veteran workforce and gives participants the confidence needed to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.

“We have this great group of veterans entering the workforce that has already undergone extensive training but in many cases, needs a little assistance navigating the job market,” said Shelly Stewart, national program director for PAVE. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help guide them through that process and watch them flourish.”

While PAVE is open to any veteran, spouse, or caregiver, the program is run by the Paralyzed Veterans, an organization chartered over 70 years ago to ensure paralyzed veterans receive the benefits they deserve through their service. This has placed PAVE in a unique position to address the needs of paralyzed veterans in the job market, such as mobility, accessibility, and other physical challenges.

“PAVE has been an integral part of our recruiting efforts and helping us place veterans in our organization. They put veterans’ needs first,” said Thomas Birch, recruitment consultant for Xceed Group.

In 2016, there were roughly 20.9 million veterans in the U.S. That accounts for about nine percent of the civilian non-institutional population and a major contributor to the American workforce. PAVE Employment Events give organizations the opportunity to directly connect with this vast pool of potential employees and play a pivotal role in the lives of veterans looking to take the next step in their careers.

“PAVE events are a rich environment for a job opportunity,” said Leon Mallery, Air Force veteran and PAVE participant that secured a job as a result of a PAVE event. “There are employers eager to spend one-on-one time with you and see if there’s a way you can fit into their organization.”

For more information on how veterans, spouses, caregivers, and employers can join the PAVE program and participate in upcoming Employment Events click here. For additional details on the event in Tampa, click here.

Upcoming Event Times and Locations:
• February 7, 2018 – Tampa, Florida
• April 11, 2018 – New York, New York
• July 11, 2018 – Nashville, Tennessee
• October 17, 2018 – San Diego, California
• February 13, 2019 – Seattle, Washington

About PAVE:
PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment) provides vocational counseling and job placement assistance to veterans, spouses and caregivers across the country. Our unique, no-cost program offers assistance with a variety of customized job search strategies that position our clients for success. Through the generous support of both private and public partnerships, the PAVE program strives to place at least one veteran, caregiver or spouse every day.

PAVE also provides on-going support to employer partners who want to leverage the unique training and skills of our nation’s veteran workforce. By partnering with PAVE, employers will recognize why hiring veterans is good for their bottom line. PAVE strives to find the best jobs for veterans and the best veterans for jobs.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For over 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation, and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 74 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Ten questions to never, ever, ask at a job interview

Career Tips

You must bring questions with you to every job interview.

Here are three good questions to ask your interviewer:

1. How does this position contribute to the department’s — and the company’s — success?

2. What will a successful first year in this job look like? What will your new hire accomplish?

3. Who are the internal and external customers of the person in this job, and what do those customers want?

You will come up with more questions to ask as you research the company you’re going to be interviewing with. You’ll develop questions about the position, the company’s goals, the manager’s communications style and much more. New questions will pop into your mind during the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — it’s the best thing a candidate can do!

At the same time, there are certain questions never, ever to ask at a job interview. Ten of them are listed below.

1. What does your company do?

You can say, “I know Acme Explosives manufactures stick dynamite for the coyote market — but I’d love to hear your perspective on the organization and its mission.”

You can’t show up at a job interview not knowing what the company does. That’s what the internet is for!

2. Do you have any other positions available, apart from this one?

Right now, you’re sitting in an interview talking about a specific job. Don’t ask about other positions unless the interviewer says, “I don’t think you’re a good fit for this job.”

If you feel that the job you’re discussing is not a good fit for you, you can say so — but until you’ve reached that point, keep the conversation on topic and remember that no one can force you to take a job if you don’t want to.

If they make you an offer and it doesn’t excite you, you can inquire about other available positions then. Cross that bridge later!

3. Which bus comes to your building from the east side of the city?

It’s up to you to figure out public transportation. Every public transit authority has online maps and schedules. It’s not the interviewer’s job to know every bus and train route, and this type of low-altitude question doesn’t brand you as a professional.

4. Do you use ABC Software here?

If they care about your proficiency with a particular software program, they will ask you. If you ask whether they use ABC Software and they don’t, you’ll be hanging in the breeze. The interviewer will say, “No, we use XYZ Software — are you proficient in that?” and you’ll have to say, “Nope.”

There’s no advantage to asking, “What kind of software do you use here?” in the early stages of your interview process.

5. Do you drug test applicants?

This is the biggest red-flag question you can ask. Even if you’re just asking out of curiosity or because you eat a poppy-seed bagel every day and you’re worried about the poppy seeds messing up your drug test results, don’t ask the question!

If they drug-test applicants, they will tell you that when it’s time for you to take the drug test.

Cut back on the poppy seed bagels, just in case.

6. Are you interviewing other people for the job?

You can safely assume they’re interviewing other people. Also, what difference does it make? If it’s the right job for you at this moment in time, they’ll make you an offer, and you’ll accept.

Don’t worry about other candidates they may be considering. Focus on yourself!

7. If I don’t get the offer this time, how long do I have to wait to re-apply?

I include this question on our list of “Don’t Ask” interview questions because I have heard it from applicants’ lips so many times.

Everyone can understand how nerve-wracking the job search process can be. Don’t make it worse by asking your interviewer what to do if you don’t get the job!

8. Are you going to talk to my former employer?

Any employer who’s considering hiring you is going to conduct some type of employment verification process. That process works through your former employer’s HR department.

Unless you listed your former manager as one of your references, prospective employers are very unlikely to talk to your old boss (or even to learn your former boss’s name).

Don’t put questions about your relationship with your ex-boss in their minds by asking, “Are you going to talk to my former employer?”

9. Does your company offer tuition reimbursement? How much is the deductible on your dental plan? How many vacation days will I accrue in the first three months? Does your health plan cover contact lenses?

It is a bad use of your precious face-to-face interview time to ask questions about the specifics of the company’s benefit plans. Ask for a copy of the health care program documents and read them when you get home.

You have a real person who works for the company in front of you — pick their brain about the work, the mission, the challenges, the opportunity and the culture.

Don’t turn your poor interviewer into a walking, talking employee benefits encyclopedia!

10. How long is your new employee probation period?

This is another unnecessary and potentially alarming question for a job applicant to ask at an interview.

You can ask, “What is the waiting period for health benefits?” or, “What is your 401(k) eligibility schedule?” but don’t ask about the probationary period specifically.

If you do, it sounds like you’re anxious about making it through your probationary period. In reality, the probationary period for newcomers isn’t all that significant unless you work in a unionized environment that gives workers more protection after they’ve finished probation.

For everybody else, a major slip-up on Day 100 of your employment will outweigh the fact that you’ve completed your 90-day probation. Don’t give your possible next boss reason to wonder,”Why does this person care so much about the probationary period?”

Ask for a copy of the company’s handbook instead of asking this question — and read it cover to cover!

This article originally appeared on

Academy of United States Veterans Awards tiag® Steve Vincent with 2018 Honorary VETTY


WASHINGTON, D.C., January, 2018 – At the Third Annual VETTYS Awards on January 20, 2018, Steven (“Steve”) D. Vincent was awarded an Honorary VETTY by The Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV).

Celebrating the remarkable work of individuals and organizations who demonstrate consistent, extraordinary quality of public service, exemplary advocacy efforts and exceptional service to the veteran community, the VETTY Awards is an annual event celebrating awards conferred by the Academy’s voting members.

At this star-studded event emceed by CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C., Vincent — who serves as senior business development manager at tiag® (The Informatics Applications Group, Inc.) — was recognized for his selfless service and relentless dedication to veterans.

Introduced by AUSV VETTYS award presenters actress Anne Heche and mixed martial artist Colton T. Smith, Vincent was celebrated as a stalwart advocate of veterans and lauded for his ongoing efforts to help active-duty military, veterans and employers overcome obstacles intrinsic in military-to-civilian workforce transitions.

Inspired by his prior 25-year U.S. Navy career and a personal sense of duty to empower the successful integration of veterans into the civilian workforce, Vincent reflected in his acceptance speech that, “Like any of my successes on active duty, this award is the result of a team rather than individual effort. I am privileged to work for an employer that values and supports veterans. And I would not be successful were it not for a great team of fellow veterans at a wide range of companies and government agencies working together to help those in transition.”

In his endeavors to help active-duty military, veterans and Steve Vincent militaryemployers overcome obstacles intrinsic in military-to-civilian workforce transitions, Vincent mentors veterans, teaching them effective, successful ways to articulate their value proposition to potential civilian employers. Likewise, Vincent educates employers and organizations on effective ways to improve their approach and ability to attract, hire and retain veterans.
“Ever since Steve joined us directly from his own military transition in 2012, we have wholeheartedly supported his tireless efforts to improve the lives of veterans,” says tiag President and Chief Operating Officer Neil Lampton, noting that one in every four employees is a veteran at tiag. “We applaud Steve’s immense contributions to veterans, evidenced by this prestigious award.”

About tiag®
Headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and on the West Coast, tiag (The Informatics Applications Group, Inc.), is an innovative management consulting and technology services firm esteemed for providing superior technology solutions that transform business and advance critical missions. tiag takes pride in its people, achievements, processes and successes in leading initiatives to support our government and commercial clients. tiag’s extensive services portfolio delivers focused expertise and support ranging from complex, enterprise-wide solutions to stand-alone custom projects. Please explore our service offerings at and connect with us to discover how we provide tremendous value beyond the scope of work.

Calling all women veterans!


Women Vets On Point is an organization that focuses on supporting women who have served and their health after service.

If you, or if you know a woman who has served, in any branch, in any capacity, for any length of time, the organization is interested to hear from you/her.

The process involves the women taking a less than 5-minute online survey to tell us a bit about her background.

This will help us identify a diverse group of women veterans across Los Angeles County.

If selected to participate, we will work together to schedule the women for a two-hour interview with our partners at the Frameworks Institute.

Interviews will be held the week of January 29 in and around Los Angeles County.

Click here to view the online survey.

Click  here for more information about this event.

SongwritingWith:Soldiers celebrates five years, plans to double growth in 2018


SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a program that builds community by pairing veterans and active duty service members with professional songwriters to create songs about their military experiences and returning home, will double its programming during its sixth year In 2018. Continuing to build community and resiliency through song, SW:S has directly served more than 400 veterans, active-duty and military family members since 2012, helping to tell stories through the creation of more than 350 original songs. A collection of those songs will be featured on singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier’s latest album Rifles and Rosary Beads, set for release January 26, 2018, with a portion of proceeds benefitting SW:S.

“What began with three songwriters, a positive psychology coach and program development specialist, a handful of volunteers and 10 soldiers created the ingredients for a powerful weekend during our first retreat in October 2012,” said singer-songwriter and SW:S Co-founder and Creative Director Darden Smith. “By the end of 2018, more than 75 SW:S events will have been held across the country. To give voice to those who might not otherwise be able to describe their experiences, to help them connect to others again, through their song, is more gratifying than anything we as songwriters have ever done.”

SW:S announced an expanded partnership in 2017 with Boulder Crest Retreats (BCR) in Bluemont, Va., and their new location in Sonoita, Ariz., providing the opportunity to further increase the annual number of veterans reached by nearly 150. “Boulder Crest Retreats’ life-changing PATHH (Progressive Alternative Therapies for Healing Heroes) program draws veterans from around the country, and through this continued partnership we are able to not only work with far more veterans, but help them stay better connected as a group through their signature PATHH program songs,” said SW:S Co-founder and Program Director Mary Judd.

Another new partner, Heart J Center at Sylvan Dale Ranch in Colorado, allows SW:S to increase the number of their signature weekend retreats. “Our emphasis is on using collaborative songwriting as an initial powerful spark for building creativity, connections, and awareness of strengths,” said Judd. “Creativity reveals possibility. Connections build community. Strengths build resilience. A retreat setting is ideal to clear out some life clutter and open participants to a more positive future ahead, with lasting connections to support them. Our media team of recording engineers, videographers and photographers helps keep the memories fresh soon after the retreat with CDs, DVDs and a book of the weekend. Our workshop leaders keep everyone connected with ongoing group learning and coaching calls and our community forum gives all — from veterans to songwriters to staff and volunteers — a place to discuss questions, ideas and share creations. It’s a thriving community.”

Rifles and Rosary Beads

In 2017, SW:S further increased the number of veterans, active-duty service members and military families served, and increased the number of program alumni serving as staff and peer support. The year’s successes were made possible through:

  • 6 retreats, including retreats for couples and all females
  • 12 songwriting workshops and group songwriting sessions
  • 4 SW:S events and concerts open to the public
  • Fundraising support through the 422For22 initiative to raise awareness of veteran suicides, spearheaded by past SW:S participant and U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Geartz, with support of several other SW:S veterans from different retreats. True connections with lasting impact.
  • The upcoming release of Rifles and Rosary Beads, the latest album from SW:S singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier featuring 12 songs co-written with veterans and families from SW:S. A portion of proceeds will benefit SW:S. The album is now available for pre-order at, and will be released January 26, 2018.
  • The addition of new Board President Gary Leopold, Executive Director Kristin Starling and new songwriters Maia Sharp and Will Kimbrough
  • SW:S was a featured presenter at the International Trauma Conference (May), Boston MA and Arts in Healing Conference, (Sept.) Austin, Texas

SW:S looks forward to a full calendar of nine upcoming retreats, 22 workshops, special events and concerts as part of their 2018 calendar. More details will be announced soon.

SW:S staff is in discussions with researchers and clinical staff about conducting a pilot study on the effects of collaborative songwriting sessions on PTSD and other TBI, trauma related conditions. These initial studies will focus on the effects of individual songwriting sessions. Ideally, a second phase of the study will conduct the same research on participants within a retreat setting. Comparisons will be made on the effects of the solo sessions vs. immersion in a retreat setting. This potentially groundbreaking research could provide SW:S with scientific data surrounding the core of their work, which could then provide insight into the effects of all other related aspects of the program (i.e., impact on resilience, loneliness / social connections, health and well-being, post-traumatic growth, etc. – several major areas of study today.) SW:S basic impact surveys are being conducted at retreats with pre- and post-retreat surveys among participants, and feedback is currently being compiled.

SongwritingWith:Soldiers was founded by Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Darden Smith, who performed at a U.S. military hospital in Germany and returned determined to use the art of songwriting in the service of our brothers and sisters in arms. Smith partnered with Program Director Mary Judd to build the innovative program, which holds multiple retreats each year in various regions of the country.

  • Locations are chosen based on proximity to veteran populations and private retreat centers with peaceful settings, ample meeting and workshop space to allow for intimate events that foster connections, inspire creativity and develop strengths.
  • In addition to songwriting sessions, participants attend creativity workshops in other areas taught by experts in the fields, such as photography, videography, journaling, and more. Relaxation classes such as yoga and breathing meditation are offered, as well. All are optional, always well attended.
  • Each day ends with a group dinner and special performance of all songs written that day.
  • The retreats end with a final performance of all songs, recorded for DVD for each participant.
  • Post retreat follow-up includes a CD and photo lyric book sent to all participants along with numerous opportunities to stay connected with each other and the organization to continue the building of a strong, supportive community.
  • All participants are co-writers of the songs and registered as such with ASCAP.
  • To date, more than 400 veterans and their family members have attended the retreats.
  • More than 350 songs have been written and are available to listen to for free, or can be downloaded for a donation to support the program, at

Songwriters who have participated in SW:S retreats include: Mary Gauthier, Jay Clementi, James House, Marshall Crenshaw, Gary Nicholson, Radney Foster, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Darrell Scott, Georgia Middleman, Gary Burr, Greg Trooper, JD Martin, Ashley Cleveland, Amy Speace, Monte Warden and Brad Parker. They have written hundreds of hits (“This Kiss,” “I’m In,” “One More Last Chance,” and more), many recorded by Willie Nelson, Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Delbert McClinton, Trisha Yearwood, Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks and many other top musicians.

The program covers all primary expenses for participants. Donations to support the program and its mission to positively impact the lives of our soldiers and veterans can be made at

For more information and to listen to the music, visit