Hindsight is 20/20—Airman looks back with wisdom on his harrowing experience

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Adam Klein-Veteran

By Adam Klein

After graduating from Gloucester County College with an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2005, I was unsure where I wanted to go from there. I decided I would enlist in the U.S. Airforce. I went to a recruiter and was told that I weighed too much, 214 pounds, and I would need to get down to at least 186 pounds before I would be eligible for enlistment.

I told the recruiter I would return in two months. She gave me a look that said she doubted my time table. But as in other areas of my life, when I’m told I cannot or I will not, I double down. Losing the weight was grueling, but whether through determination or sheer stubbornness, I did it. By the end of the two-month period, I went back to the recruiter weighing 165 pounds. She was surprised, to say the least.

The MOS I chose was military police, mainly because I wanted to do something in law enforcement in the privatesector. Boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas felt like a whirlwind. Looking back, I can say I enjoyed the chance to push myself and grow. After boot camp, my technical school was also located at Lackland. I have fond memories of my time there, learning life lessons and meeting fellow airmen who would become dear friends—some went on to be stationed at my first duty station at Peterson Airforce Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colorado was a beautiful place, and I enjoyed experiencing all the seasons—sometimes all in one day! My unit was the Bootcamp21st Security Forces Wing. I had what is referred to as a Panama schedule, which gave me two or three days off at a time. I was fortunate to be able to visit different sites around the base, such as Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods. I loved hiking and mountain climbing—anything that allowed me to be out in nature.

I enjoyed both my time at work on the base and the time I was able to explore the wonders around me. However, that all changed on July 3, 2006. Scheduled to go on deployment within the next few weeks, I was enjoying some time off with my fellow unit members. We decided to go to a local bar for some fun and socializing. I was the designated driver for one of my friends, so I stuck with soda for the evening. Everything was normal until the end of the evening, when a fight broke out between some of the people at the bar. As everyone was exiting the bar, I felt a sudden tingle go up my spine. I was unaware of what was happening and suddenly my right arm went limp. I was in a state of shock, and the person I was driving suggested that maybe it was a pinched nerve. He offered to let me stay at his place and see if it would be better in the morning. Even in my state of shock, I knew I wanted to drop him off and get back to my base. Looking back, of course, I realize I should have gone directly to the hospital, but that is why people say “hindsight is 20/20.”

Bootcamp

Back in my room on the base, I could tell my right leg was starting to go limp as well. I knew I needed to get help. I called my fellow security forces on duty and requested an ambulance. The officers arrived at my room and immediately assumed I was intoxicated. I tried to explain that I’d had nothing to drink—I was having a medical emergency. When the EMTs arrived, they too believed I must be drunk. As they transported me to the hospital, I felt as if I were sliding off the bottom edge of the stretcher—I kept trying to push myself back up. I was also making an unusual noise, which prompted hospital staff to request that the officers administer a breathalyzer test to determine my alcohol level. Not surprisingly, the test registered 0.0, and the staff finally realized that this was a medical, not an alcohol-related, emergency. The last thing I remember that night was heading over to get a CAT scan. It turns out, I was making that unusual noise because I was losing the ability to breathe on my own. Before I reached the CAT scan machine, I sank into a coma and woke up a full week later to my family from New Jersey standing around my bed.

The first thing I noticed was that I was hooked up to several machines; within an instant, I had a horrible realization. I couldn’t move any part of my body except my eyes. One of the machines was a breathing machine, as my lungs were not strong enough to allow me to breathe on my own. At that point, I broke down and started to cry—I was scared, confused, and angry. My doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. A week passed before he diagnosed me with acute transverse myelitis, a crippling inflammation of the spinal cord that affects the entire central nervous system. The disease is so rare that only about 1,000 people in the world are affected by it. My doctor only diagnosed it as quickly as he did because he’d seen a case of it when he was a resident 20+ years ago. The prognosis was not good, as those who are affected with the disease are usually put into one of three categories: one-third tends to recover with minimal lasting issues, a second third only recovers partial mobility, and the last third tends to never recover their mobility. My odds were even worse, because I initially experienced an acute version of the disease.

After the initial shock wore off, I forced my mind to go back to my military training. I was not going to let this situation beat me. I was in the ICU for four weeks before I was removed from the ventilator. Doctors performed a tracheostomy so I could talk and attempt to start eating again. In another week and a half, I finally I regained the use of my arm. At that point, I felt some hope that I was going beat this, regain the use of my body, and fully recover. I knew the journey was not going to be easy, but I kept reminding myself that I was a soldier and I would overcome this. I also was blessed to have the support of my family—both by blood and my service brothers and sisters. After eight weeks in the ICU, I was flown to a rehab center in northern New Jersey.

The rehab place was known for its work with spinal injuries. They classified my injury as a C4 incomplete spinal cord injury. During most of the days in rehab, I was stuck in bed because of a stage-four pressure ulcer. To help the ulcer heal, I was given a Clinitron® therapy bed, which is made up of sand that is constantly heated and moving to promote healing. The bed was very hot, however, so I eagerly awaited my therapy sessions, my one chance a day to get up out of bed. I was always dressed and waiting in my wheelchair. One day, I waited and waited, but no one came to pick me up. Able to use only my left arm and left leg, I slowly wheeled myself to my therapy session one foot at a time. I was not going to miss that session! When I finally arrived, my therapist asked, “Who brought you down here?” I replied, “No one. I didn’t want to miss my session, so I wheeled myself.” He couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Well, I guess you don’t need to work out today, after getting yourself here.” I first gave him a hard stare, then laughed and told him, “Like hell, I’m still getting my session!” After that, the therapist never sent anyone to push me. I admit I was then and still am very stubborn, but I have always understood that many people in our lives can help us push ourselves, we must be willing to take the first steps and keep going when the road gets long and hard. I believe we need to keep pushing until we’re six feet under or, in my case, seven feet under, because I will crawl out if given the chance!

I was in the rehab center for a little more than four months before I could go home. It was the Friday before Christmas. I was very happy to go home, even if still in a wheelchair and using the special hospital bed for my pressure ulcer that was still healing. I was not naïve—I knew the transition was going to be difficult because of my neurological issues, but I also knew I’d progressed far enough to move to the next stage of my recovery. Living in my parents’ home again had its own set of challenges. While they were willing and able to offer space and support, it took time and effort to get used to asking for assistance with basic needs. Life has a way of keeping us humble and allowing us to realize how fragile we are.

I continued therapy to regain strength and mobility. I truly believed I would overcome this disease and return to the Air Force. Statistically, studies show that people who have faith in their recovery are more likely to have a better outcome than those who believe recovery is unlikely. I remember that my first neurologist, an older physician, told me I would probably never walk again or progress much further in my recovery. He told me and my parents that he would be trying to simply ensure that I did not degrade further. While I was angry and taken aback by this, it fueled my decision to find another doctor who would be an active part of my support system, regardless of the prognosis.

While still working with outpatient therapy, I decided that no matter what my future held, I wanted to help others and find meaning for my own life. I decided to go back to school to earn a bachelor of science in human services management. Because I was still in a wheelchair, I elected to attend my classes online, but I wanted to be able to walk to accept my diploma. For the next few years, my life consisted of two main tasks: working on my degree and pushing myself physically. Even when my insurance decided I had plateaued and they would no longer pay for my therapy, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. When the day came to graduate, my twin brother, who was also graduating with his bachelor of arts, walked with me down the aisle, and I accepted my degree on my own terms, on my own two legs.

It took a few more years of working on my mobility before I couldVeterans Administration walk without a cane. Around that time, I was feeling deeply grateful for my support system, and I decided I wanted to provide that same support to others. I enrolled in Rutgers University–Camden’s social work master’s program. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the program, because I’d used my G.I. Bill funds. At Rutgers, veteran liaison Fred Davis showed me how to access additional funds available to veterans with disabilities. Fred not only helped me get reimbursed for the year of tuition I paid but also introduced me to fellow student veterans who provided much-needed emotional support. These other soldiers understood the stressors and conditions I’d gone through and still struggled with. Rutgers has a strong understanding of the veteran experience, and its faculty works hard to make supportive resources available. Rutgers has a real stake in the success of their veteran students, and it shows.

During the second year of my master’s program, I interned at the Philadelphia Veteran Medical Center—this was exactly the population I wanted to serve. Working with some of the veterans, I sensed resistance until they learned I was a fellow veteran. Then their whole demeanor changed and their guard went down. My experiences at the medical center reinforced my belief that I was meant to work with fellow veterans and individuals with disabilities. Graduating from Rutgers University was one of the proudest days of my life. Without Fred Davis and my fellow veteran students, the road to that diploma would have been much more difficult.

One of my other passions is learning about different cultures and places. During my summer break, I backpacked through Europe to see how other people lived, experiencing the world I hoped to improve. Although my mobility was still a challenge, I refused to allow it to hinder the pursuit of my goals. My disability would not be an inability—I would focus instead on my abilities. My 30 days in Europe was only the first of many times that I would discover how strong I was when I challenged myself.

Adam Klein

After graduating, I applied for a two-year fellowship position in a congressional office through the Wounded Warrior Program. Three weeks later, I received an employment offer, and I was thrilled. Not only would I have the chance to work on behalf of a great program, but I would also be working as a veteran case manager in the office of Congressman Donald Norcross, from the 1st District in New Jersey. I already knew that Congressman Norcross was passionate about the care and treatment of veterans, as well as the working class. I was excited to be working under his leadership.

Over the next two years, I learned about veteran needs and the resources they could receive through a congressional office. If our office was unable to assist, we made every effort to find out who could. I also met with other organizations and individuals who were working to improve the lives of veterans. The time I spent in that position gave me a better perspective on the needs of my fellow veterans and the laws and policies being suggested to find those resources and solutions. As the fellowship came to an end, I still had my passion to serve veterans, and this time I wanted more of a one-on-one experience. Rutgers-CamdenFortunately, I was offered a veteran service officer position at the New Jersey Camden County Office of Veteran Affairs, where I could still help veterans access the resources for their individual situations. My future plans are to further my mobility, enhance my knowledge in the service of my fellow veterans and people with disabilities, and finally prove that having a disability should never overshadow your ability to help better the world.

Local Charity Creates Barber/Beauty Salon Expressly for Homeless Veterans

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Haircuts-for-Veterans

Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation (RBCF) is well known for managing projects in Maryland that provide no-charge haircuts and hairstyles services to children and adults who lack access to regular grooming services. Therefore, on June 25, 2018 at 5PM the RBCF and the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) will cut the ribbon on a single chair barber/beauty salon that will exclusively provide no-charge grooming services homeless veterans.

Located in Southeast Baltimore, the shop will serve up to 175 of our Country’s former armed service men and women. The shop is the first of its kind in Baltimore, with the cost of the installation is funded with private grants and donations from individuals.

MCVET has operated a 175 bed transitional shelter for homeless veterans (both male and female service members) for more than twenty-five years. The facility addresses employment training and placement, housing assistance, addiction, mental health issues, and more. The goal of full employment, independence, and reintegration into the community is not fully attainable if these veterans’ appearance is suffering from a lack of access to regular grooming,” says Robert Cradle, Managing Director of the RBCF. “When the new barber/salon is installed, MCVET will enlist volunteer barbers and hairstylists to provide haircuts, hairstyles, shaves and needed chemical treatments”. RBCF: therbcf.com; MCVET: mcvet.org/

How to Recruit Veterans to Your Business

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hiring-managers

So many businesses today have discovered how much veterans have to offer their company and are scrambling to hire as many military veterans as possible.

With more and more service members transitioning to civilian life every year, many businesses are searching for those well-educated, well-disciplined, professional men and women.

Not so long ago, it was veterans that were having trouble finding suitable work, today, this has changed. Companies are competing to get the best of the best, trying to promote themselves as military and veteran friendly, and attract veterans to their door.

Whether you are trying to recruit a veteran on your own, or are working with a recruiting firm, there are several practices that will help your company attract veterans. They are:

  • Become known as a military company. You can do this by simply attending and sponsoring military events. For example, attend military job fairs, post jobs on military job boards, and sponsor military events. This will help you become known as a military friendly employer and when searching for jobs, they will look to you.
  • Network with military groups. Whether you volunteer to speak for a military group, or attend other social functions, it is important to network with these groups. These will be great resources to you when it comes time to hire for a position. Make sure that you allow your military staff to participate as well. When they network and keep in touch with fellow military veterans, they will be great sources of referrals.
  • Build your brand towards being an organization that is military and veteran friendly. This can be done in a multitude of ways; the key is making sure that you are known in the community as a veteran friendly business.
  • Take the time to set up your job ads and job descriptions to relate to military jargon. It will be easier for veterans to understand how their skills will relate to your job when you break it down for them in words they understand. This will also help them in their transition to civilian life.
  • Use your current employees, who are veterans, as mentors and trainers within your organization. Again this will help your new veteran employees to feel more comfortable during their transition. This kind of comfort will translate for you as well, as they will tell other veterans looking for position.

If you are looking to recruit veterans into your business environment, consider these implementing these practices into your business culture. When you do, you will become known as a military and/or veteran friendly business and will have more candidates than you can hire.

Source: absolutelyamerican.com

One Company Gives Back to Injured Veterans, Helping them Every Step of the Way

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Leslie Smith

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 18.5 million veterans in the country. Like the rest of the population, they experience lower leg injuries, resulting from any number of issues.

One company has created a way to help them every step of the way, making it more comfortable for them to have better mobility as they recover. The iWALKFree company gives back to veterans, by giving those with lower leg injuries the iWALK2.0.

“We are extremely grateful for everything veterans have done for our country,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc. “Being able to give back and help them even a little is the least that we can do. We are happy to know that our device helps make their injury recovery a lot more tolerable.”

The iWALK2.0 has been designed to help with all types of common lower leg injuries, as well as those with amputations. To provide veterans with the iWALK2.0, the company has teamed up with the Travis Mills Foundation. The foundation was created by Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, who is a wounded warrior, having lost of his arms and legs during combat. He became an advocate for veterans and amputees, starting the foundation to help with those efforts. During 2017, they helped 84 veteran families with being able to attend a healing retreat that included such as activities as yoga, archery, boating, fishing, hiking, painting, culinary arts, and much more.

One of the wounded veterans helped by the iWALK2.0 is Leslie Smith, a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Bosnia in 2001-2002. Her rigorous training required her to wear combat boots that lead to a blood clot. The condition led to an amputation of her left leg. Though she was fitted for a prosthetic leg, what many people don’t realize is that wearing them for any length of time can lead to severe skin irritation and extreme pain at the knee and upper thigh. Typically amputees give up their prosthetics from time to time so that these side effects can heal.  And many military vets who have lost their legs have given up on prosthetics altogether due to these side effects. The iWALK2.0 helps her through those healing periods.

“The iWalk allows me to be and feel like a whole person,” explains Leslie SmithLeslie Smith. ““The iWalk gives me freedom, confidence, and independence. I do not have to rely on a wheelchair or crutches. Having the ability to use my hands freely is of great importance especially being legally blind and having a service dog. The iWalk has removed any and all stress or worry that I will not be able to continue daily activities, work, travel, and anything fun, like shopping. I have no fear of missing out on what I need to do!”

With the iWALK2.0, Smith no longer has to hop, crawl, use a wheelchair or crutches, in order to get around when she was taking a break from her prosthetic to heal. This helps to avoid injuries, bruising, falls, and soreness.  Plus, it’s empowered her life because she can get around with ease and feel safe doing so.

The program that iWALKFree has in place to give back to those in need provides people with the opportunity to donate their used iWALK2.0 to a variety of charities. Along with the Travis Mills Foundation, they provide devices to the Adaptive Training Foundation, Canada Africa Community Health Alliance, Serving Us Veterans in Need, Globus Relief, Hands of Hope, Physicians for Peace, Limbs for Life, World Rehabilitation Fund, Marshall-Legacy Institute, and Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance.

In addition to giving back to veterans to help with their injury recovery, the company also provides help to other charities where they provide free iWALK2.0 units to those in need who do not have the means to otherwise pay for them. The device retails for $149, but their mission with that charity is to help those in need have access to a more comfortable way to recover from injury that will also help them be more mobile.

The product does provide benefits to those veterans who used it, because the iWALK2.0 offered them easier mobility while they were recovering from an injury. Rather than them spending their time recovering from a lower leg injury using crutches, which can be painful and limit mobility, they were able to get around easier and with less pain.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, pain-free alternative to using crutches and leg scooters.  It’s easy to learn to use, intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree.com.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com.

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Source:
U.S. Census Bureau Veterans Day 2017.

Paws of War to Take Therapy Dogs to Nursing Home

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Therapy Dog

Dogs can often brighten the day of anyone, providing them with companionship, laughs, and giving them a reason to smile. The senior residents at the Dominican Village Assisted Living Community, located at 565 Albany Avenue in Amityville, New York, will be all smiles on June 15, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. That’s because the Paws of War organization will be stopping by with seven therapy dogs to visit with the residents, many of whom are veterans and retired police officers.

“This is going to be a real treat for the residents of Dominican Village,” says Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “Many of these heroes we will be visiting are humble, yet have saved many lives. We want them to know their courage and valor has not been forgotten.”

Paws of War is an organization that focuses on serving veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. Some of the seniors that the therapy dogs visit are suffering from such conditions as dementia, while others are in good health. Numerous of the veterans that will be visited have been awarded Purple Hearts. Everyone typically gets something beneficial from the time they spend with the dogs. Paws of War is also partnering with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) New York lodge 911 to provide this beneficial service to the assisted living community. The FOP will also have therapy dogs at the event.

Therapy DogThe purpose of the visits is to provide the residents with an opportunity to connect with the dogs, have their spirits lifted, and to benefit from the calming, soothing nature that they bring with them. According to the National Institutes of Health, interacting with animals has been shown to decrease stress-related hormones and lower blood pressure. Other studies have shown that interactions help to reduce loneliness, boost your mood, and provide feelings of social support.

“Being able to take our dogs there to spend an hour is exciting,” added Joanne Contegiacomo, director of the dog therapy program at Paws of War. “It’s our mission to help and give back when and where we can, and we know this is going to help lift some spirits.”

Paws of War is an non profit organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a donation to support their efforts, visit their site at:pawsofwar.org

Therapy DogAbout Paws of War
Paws of War is a 501c3 organization devoted to helping both animals and veterans. The Paws of War goal is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence to our United States military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war such as PTSD. In turn each veteran can experience the therapeutic and unconditional love only a companion animal can bring. To learn more about Paws of War, visit the site at pawsofwar.org

Daymond John’s Advice To The Founder Of Mutt’s Sauce And Other Veteran Entrepreneurs

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After Charlynda Scales’ grandfather, Charlie Ferrell, Jr., passed away in 2005, she honored the Vietnam and Korean War veteran’s memory by serving in the U.S. Air Force. Eight years later, she’d honor him again by launching Mutt’s Sauce, LLC.

She started the business in 2013 when her mother handed her the secret family recipe that had been locked in a safe for years. Ferrell, whose military nickname was “The Mutt” for “his ability to blend in with all types of cultures and make friends with anyone,” created the sauce in 1956 when he was deployed to Japan. While there, he and his family hosted many dinners for troops stationed in East Asia. According to family lore, his sweet and peppery tomato-based sauce was the highlight of parties, bringing military families of all backgrounds together during the 1950s. “It was never a business, he would just make it for friends and family,” said Scales. “He’d give them as gifts to break the ice with whoever he met at military parties or cookouts in his hometown of Cookeville, Tennessee.”

Ferrell created the multipurpose sauce because he wanted to declutter his refrigerator and rely on one bottle to flavor every meal. It would take his granddaughter multiple tries to recreate the original recipe. She used $15,000 in savings to hire a manufacturer operated by an Amish family in Chillicothe, Ohio. With their home-cooking techniques and equipment, they managed to replicate the sauce in large batches. “They literally hand-poured the sauce into 700 bottles,” says Scales, who took them door-to-door to mom-and-pop groceries and farmers’ markets. At $5 a bottle, Mutt’s Sauce sold out within its first week.

She was eager to increase output and lower prices to compete with other condiments. But she had to find a larger manufacturer that she could afford and that would be able to maintain the same tanginess while producing mass quantities. “We want the sauce to be used by everyday families. We don’t want to be too high-end,” says Scales.

In 2016 she attended a military conference in Dallas where she learned of the Heroes to CEOs grant contest run by Bob Evans Foods, which produces and distributes frozen foods and side dishes. Candidates had to submit a video and story about their business’s military or veteran roots in order to win a $25,000 grant.

Mike Townsley, CEO of Bob Evans Foods, says this program is one way to carry on the spirit of Bob Evans, the company’s late founder. “He had a soft spot for the military and veterans because he served in the Army,” said Townsley.

The company has kicked off its second annual Heroes to CEOs contest. In addition to the grant, three finalists win a trip to New York City where they will receive mentoring from BEF executives and a half-day coaching session with Shark Tank judge Daymond John. “He’s equipped to teach them ways to gain momentum that are unique to an entrepreneur,” says Townsley. “It’s so much more different starting a small business wearing many hats, versus a large corporation that I run.”

According to John, all military and veteran business owners should act like supportive partners: “Their biggest asset is a large network of other men and women who they’ve served with. Tap this core group and symbiotically learn from them and serve them.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Overcoming tragedy to become a champion

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Ce-Ce Mayczk

By all rights, any fear of heights that Army veteran Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck might have had would be justified. On a particularly windy day in November 2003, she and other members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division went on their final parachute jump before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The wind carried Mazyck into the canopy of another soldier’s parachute and they plummeted toward the earth. Mazyck was able to free herself from the other soldier’s chute, but her recovery came too late. She came down. Hard. Her feet and knees were apart, out of position for a proper landing.

“It felt like a rough landing, but that had happened before. I remember trying to get up, but I couldn’t move. My legs were crossed, and when I tried to roll over, I knew something was wrong,” Mazyck said.

The jump had injured Mazyck’s L1 and L2 vertebrae, leaving her instantly paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor told her family she would never walk again. For a single mother of a young toddler, her greatest fear was that she would not be able to provide for her son.

“It didn’t make me feel good that someone would tell that to my family. I always go against the odds. When I heard the doctor say that, I said, ‘We’ll see,’” recalled Mazyck. “I want to go back to the hospital and walk up to that doctor today just to show him.”

As part of her road to recovery, Mazyck braved the altitude to attend the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado, which is co-sponsored by DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Mazyck was among more than 400 participants at the event, which is open to military veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other disabilities, who receive care at a VA or military treatment facility. Clinic activities encourage intensive physical rehabilitation. But more importantly, participants build their confidence.

“The clinic gives people a sense of hope. There’s a camaraderie, a fellowship,” said Mazyck.

At the culmination of the event, Mazyck was presented with the DAV Freedom Award for the inspiration she provided her fellow participants.

After attending the clinic, Mazyck worked to finish her degree in sociology and trained five days a week in the gym. She tried a number of wheelchair sports including powerlifting, but soon realized her passion was throwing the javelin. She placed first at the Paralympics trials in 2012. The following year she attended the IPC Athletics World Championships and won a bronze medal. She has competed and placed in several other competitions such as the Endeavor Games, the Czech Open and the Desert Challenge.

“I’m Centra Mazyck. I’m Ce-Ce. You didn’t know? I’m an achiever,” she said. “I’m an athlete. I was an athlete before I was disabled. I’m still an athlete. I’m still a soldier.”

She reaches out to her fellow veterans whenever she feels her story can inspire them to overcome obstacles in their lives.

“You have to believe in yourself, not in what someone tells you.”

 

I’m Qualified, Why Can’t I Find a Job?

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Transitioning Veteran

By Ryan Guina

I’ve been using LinkedIn a lot more frequently lately. It’s a great place to connect with people, offer advice, and ask for assistance if you need it. If you are on LinkedIn, I recommend joining some of the many veterans groups on there, which offer a lot of great support and advice for finding a job.

You Have to Know Where to Look For Work

The job market is tough right now, but not impossible. One of the most important things to know is that most jobs aren’t listed publicly. They are part of the “hidden job market” which means they simply aren’t advertised when they become open—they are typically filled internally, through referrals from current employees, or through headhunters. Why? Because most jobs posted publicly receive anywhere from 50 to 100 (or more) applications. Hiring managers use these three methods to screen potential employees. This saves employers time and money.

Networking is Essential for Finding a Job in Today’s Economy

The best way to find a job in the current economy is through your professional network or through a recruiter. Start by contacting someone in your professional network and ask them to peer review your resume. This will give you a good idea of where your resume can be improved. They may also let you know about potential job openings at their employer if there are any. If most of your peers are still in the military, then consider joining some professional organizations or clubs, doing volunteer work at your church or with a charity, or finding other ways you can expand your network and show other people your skills.

You may also benefit by reaching out to a staffing agency or head hunter. Some of the jobs they offer are only temporary positions, but they are still worth taking as it helps put money in your pocket and keeps your skills fresh. These positions may sometimes lead to a full time job, or they may give you the opportunity to learn new skills or gain additional experience.

Seek Out Positions That Use Your Military Skills

Your military experience is incredibly valuable, especially for government agencies and contractors who work with the government. Many people have the skills you have, but don’t speak the “same language” the military speaks. That was the selling point I used when I landed my first post-military job. It’s often easier to teach vets specific skills than it is to teach non-veterans how the military operates.

A security clearance can also be a very valuable tool in helping you get a job. There are even career sites that specialize in posting openings for people with a various levels of security clearances. If you have a security clearance, try to keep it active long enough to use it at your next job. You may also be able to reactivate an expired security clearance in less time than it takes for someone to get one from scratch—which is an expensive and time-consuming process for employers. This gives you a leg up over someone who doesn’t have a security clearance.

Review your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

It is essential to take care when crafting your first post-military resume. Pay special attention to translating your military skills into civilian terms, so that a layman can understand what you bring to the table. When writing a resume, it’s also essential to create a unique resume for each job application and include specific skills and keywords from the job description to ensure it is selected by the automatic filters many companies use to screen resumes.

Take some time to go through your LinkedIn profile and any other digital profiles or resumes—you may find ways to improve your digital profiles to make them more attractive to employers.

Look Into Government Employment and Programs

There are many government programs for veterans, including the Veterans Job Corps, which will create public service jobs for veterans. Other veteran career programs include My Next Move for Veterans, the Veterans Job Bank, and the Veterans Gold Card. You may also consider a job with the civil service or a state agency, many of which give a veterans preference.

Consider Further Education

If you still have education benefits available to you, then consider going back to school on a full- or part-time basis. The GI Bill can help you obtain a degree or other certification, which can help you enhance your employability. If you are unemployed and meet the requirements, you may also be eligible for the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which gives GI Bill benefits to unemployed vets.

About the Author
Ryan Guina is the founder of TheMilitaryWallet.com, a military and veterans benefits site. He has served more than 6 years on active duty and currently serves in the Air National Guard.

Find the original article and more from TheMilitaryWallet here

Why is U.S. Veterans Magazine a top magazine for veteran entrepreneurs?

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Career Tips

Some of the most trusted individuals in American society are the brave men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces. In fact, 87 percent of citizens say they have confidence in the military, making it the highest rated institution in the U.S., according to this NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from January 2018.

That said, it comes as no surprise that veterans make great entrepreneurs and that reputable and relevant publications like U.S. Veterans Magazine are a top magazine for entrepreneurs. The magazine exists to celebrate the accomplishments of veterans and being a veteran entrepreneur is one such accomplishment.

It makes sense that military service members are a natural fit for entrepreneurship– they are some of America’s best leaders and they have a dedication and loyalty that is unmatched by most. Because of their integrity-focused background, mission-oriented nature and call to fulfill a higher purpose, veterans are primed to run a successful business.

Despite having the right mindset, there has been a steady decline in the number of veteran entrepreneurs in America. According to a survey by the nonprofit Bunker Labs, young veterans are significantly less likely to become entrepreneurs than veterans from previous generations. The report finds that fewer than 5% of veteran business owners belong to the generation that served after 9/11.

As veterans pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, it is important that they continue to feel supported, respected and represented and that is what makes U.S. Veterans Magazine a top magazine for entrepreneurs.

The magazine covers the most important veteran news, including up-to-date statistics on workforce diversity, as well as business-to-business trends. Topics include business, career, and disability news and articles on education, finance, government, health, lifestyle and transitioning to civilian life.

U.S. Veterans Magazine also links companies and government entities to qualified career and business candidates from the ranks of the nation’s veterans. The publication highlights immediate and lucrative employment as well as business and supplier opportunities for veterans, transitioning service members, disabled veterans and veteran business owners.

If you’re a veteran looking for advice on how to start your business, or need training on how to become an entrepreneur, U.S. Veterans Magazine has resources to guide you down the right path.

The informational articles and links to suppliers and partners that support veterans are accompanied by featured articles about celebrity veterans like comedian Rob Riggle.

All of the stories shared by U.S. Veterans Magazine illustrate the inspiring and honorable qualities of service men and women and this is why many select it as their top magazine for entrepreneurs.

Veterans are proven leaders, and as a community, they’ve shown they can deliver on their entrepreneurial pursuits. ‘U.S. Veterans Magazine’ believes we need to turn around the shrinking military entrepreneur rate in America and we can do that by empowering the best-trained and most-trusted people in the country.

Whether you are a veteran just starting out, or have seen your business evolve into a well-known, veteran-owned brand like FedEx, GoDaddy, Walmart or Nike, U.S. Veterans Magazine is a resource on your journey as an entrepreneur.

This publication tells the stories that are going to empower veterans to reinvigorate America with a different kind of service to their country and that is what U.S. Veterans Magazine is about.

 

Podcast for Military Members is here!

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Milresourceradio.com is a special place for veterans and service members alike to receive stories and support. This podcast is for veterans by veterans. Hear directly from organization leaders—and those who’ve benefited from their services. Host Les Davis is U.S. Army (ret) and a Gulf War Veteran. He has built mil/vet recruitment strategies for AMVETS and Fortune 100 companies, helping other vets post-service personally and professionally. His advocacy specialties are transition, PTS, employment, education, and leadership change and growth.

Check out his podcast on taking care of mental health for veterans with special guest Linda Kreter,  founder and CEO of Healing Household 6, a non-profit organization supporting caregivers, spouses, and partners of veterans.

militarynetworkradio.com/healing-household

Electrical Apprenticeship Offers Vet a Bright Future

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By Rhonda Burke

As a 17-year-old student at St. Charles High School in Illinois, Kyle Horn knew he was interested in a career as an electrician. He had his eye on a local apprenticeship program but first joined the Army Reserve as an interior electrician upon graduation in 2007.

With a few years of real-world experience under his belt, he applied in 2011 – and was accepted – as an apprentice while remaining in the Reserve. The program is run through the Northern Illinois Electrical Joint Apprentice Training Center in Crystal Lake, known as the JATC, and partners with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The JATC has been extremely accommodating of my Army duties,” the 28-year-old veteran said. “Prior to my last deployment, they worked with me off-hours and extra days to help me finish my fourth year in the program so I’d be ready to finish up when I returned.”

Sgt. Horn returned in March 2017 from his second deployment to Iraq, where he was assigned to the 863rd Engineer Battalion, 945th Engineer Detachment, Utilities Detachment in support of Combined Joint Task Force−Operation Inherent Resolve, the multi-national coalition working to defeat ISIS and stabilize the region. He was also deployed to the country in 2010.

Today, Horn is nearly finished with the five-year apprenticeship − which also involves taking college courses − and is working at Associated Electrical, a Northern Illinois company that provides commercial and industrial services.

“I really like my job because the work environment changes every day. You never stop learning and it is never monotonous,” he said. Another benefit: “I have no student loans and have been paid to learn on the job. It is a tremendous opportunity,” he said, noting he has several friends who incurred significant student debt while learning their vocation. The same is true for his wife, Nicole, who is an architect.

Upon completing 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 1,000 hours of instructional learning, Horn will receive an industry-issued, nationally recognized journeyman certificate from the training center. Electricians in Illinois can expect to earn close to $80,000 per year on average.

His long-term goals include completing his bachelor’s degree; he has nearly enough credits now through his apprenticeship training. He is also committed to a 20-year career in the Army Reserve.

“I feel truly blessed,” he said. “I have a baby son due in January and two great careers that will enable me to take great care of my family.”

There are more than 500,000 apprentices across the country, with more apprenticeship opportunities added every day. Learn more at dol.gov/apprenticeship. Information about career services available for veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses is available at veterans.gov.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor