4 Financial Tips for Transitioning Veterans and Spouses

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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 saveandinvest.org 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.

Source: militarysaves.org

Where to Live When You Leave the Military?

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Transitioning Veterans

The day will come when you decide to leave the military. You might have spent many hours thinking about where you want to live and when to get out. Now it’s time to get practical. When deciding where to live after your military separation, it’s helpful to consider:

  • Your family’s wishes
  • Career opportunities
  • Education
  • Cost of living

Talk with Your Family

The decision about your next home will affect the entire family, so include them in every step of the process. Think about the following:

  • Career and educational opportunities—Does your spouse want to pursue a career? Now’s the time to provide that chance. What about the kids? Where are the best schools? Base your decisions on what will be good for the whole family.
  • Extended family—How close do you want to be to your extended family – “See you tomorrow” close or “See you on holidays” close? As you think about this, take a careful look at your hometown and evaluate the job market, schools, and cost of living.
  • Career Goals—A new job might determine where you live after military separation. Connect with the Transition Assistance Program and get tips and information to help you with your job search. (You have six months to a year to take advantage of your final relocation benefits, so don’t feel rushed into moving before you find a job.)

Find the Best Places to Live

After you’ve narrowed your search to a handful of cities or states, you can dive a little deeper. Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you, like job opportunities, schools, climate, or cost of living. Then, do your research to find the best match.

The following can help you make the military to civilian transition a little easier:

  • Take advantage of resources like the Relocation Assistance Program and the Transition Assistance Program—Contact program representatives early on to discuss potential places to live. Staff and volunteers can give you information on real estate and rentals in the area and provide chamber of commerce material.
  • Search websites—Many websites can help you find the best places to live by letting you arrange the importance of categories like education, crime rates, climate, and housing costs. You can narrow your search by preferences or compare your favorite cities.
  • Find local information—Search for an area’s information by visiting community or chamber of commerce websites, talking to real estate agents, and reading the local newspaper.
  • Identify unique, personal preferences—Some preferences can’t be factored into a test on a website. You may want to live close to a military installation so you and your family can take advantage of military benefits, or you may want to move near a particular reserve unit where you can train in a specialized area.

Make the Decision

You’ve done the background work—now is the time to make your decision. No outcome is guaranteed, but careful evaluation will help you choose the best option for you and your family. At this point, you might want to:

  • Weigh your options—Write down the available choices and assess the pros and cons of each. Use your list to help you look objectively at options.
  • Prepare for mixed emotions—Be prepared for different kinds of feelings as you make the change from military to civilian life.
  • Visit the transportation management office—As soon as you’ve made your decision, visit the transportation management office. Your installation office will schedule your final move. The earlier you visit, the more likely you can get the move dates you want.

Access Military Support

Your relocation benefits include one final move from your last duty station within the time and geographic limits listed below. If you live in installation housing, you may be allowed one move out of housing into the local community and another final move within these limits. Check with your installation’s transportation management office for details on benefits specific to your final move.

  • Retirement—You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your retirement date. (This is called a home of selection.)
  • Involuntary separation (honorable discharge)—You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
  • Voluntary separation (honorable discharge)—You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation date. If you choose a destination of greater distance, you will be obligated to pay the additional costs.
  • General discharge (under honorable conditions)—You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation.

If you or another veteran is without a home or facing eviction or foreclosure while transitioning out of military service, the Department of Veterans Affairs can help. Call 877-4AID-VET (424-3838), or chat with them online to be connected to the homelessness prevention resources department.

Finding a place to call home after you separate from the military is one of the first big steps to civilian life. Fortunately, you have access to a number of benefits and resources that can help you with this transition. Educate yourself with the right information and you’ll be enjoying home sweet home soon.

Source: militaryonesource.mil

Caregiver Shares the Untold Children’s Story: Hero At Home

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hero at home book cover

New book explains physical injuries of wounded Veterans to children

For the three young daughters of wounded veteran, Michael Verardo, his missing limb is a symbol of heroism. After Verardo’s oldest daughter told her mother, Sarah, before bed one evening that, “Someone told me Daddy is gross, but he isn’t gross, he’s a hero!”; the family realized there was no book that explained these types of wounds to children.  Sarah Verardo is the wife and Caregiver to Michael, and also the Executive Director of The Independence Fund.  Following her daughter’s bedtime declaration, she decided to do something to help all children understand the serious injuries of war, so she authored and published a first of its kind children’s book, Hero At Home. Complete with captivating imagery and illustrations of a wounded Veteran, Hero at Home, is an educational and heart-warming story that normalizes these catastrophic conditions and teaches even very young readers how to welcome, understand, and support these resilient veterans and their families.

“There are many military families, who struggle with explaining the complex injuries to their own children, and even more so with children who are not exposed to this life on a daily basis,” said Sarah. “Our goal with this book is to be able to describe this in a way that allows children to understand the sacrifices made by our Nations wounded Veterans; and to see that they are truly heroes.”

Michael is one of the most severely wounded Veterans from the Global War on Terror. While serving as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, he sustained catastrophic and life changing injuries in 2010. His long road home has included more than100 surgeries and years of speech, visual, physical and occupational therapies. Sarah has dedicated her life to the care and recovery of her husband, and to Veterans and Caregivers nationwide in addition to raising their family. Sarah and Michael live outside Charlotte, North Carolina with their three young daughters and three golden labs. They know that for the severely wounded, the fight never truly ends. They proudly continue their service on the home front by supporting the enactment of policies, programs, and changes to improve the lives and the future for severely wounded veterans and their families.

Sarah Verardo will travel to Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City in the coming weeks to share the story of Hero At Home.

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About The Independence Fund

Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund is committed to empowering our nation’s severely wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We are dedicated to improving the lives of both our Veterans and their families. Through four distinct pillars of support, the Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, and Advocacy programs, The Independence Fund bridges the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers.

For more details regarding the Independence Fund’s mission, how to get involved, or to make a donation, please visit www.independencefund.org or call (888)-851-7996.

Rescued From a Burn Pit, Soldier Fights to Bring Dog Home With Him

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Mimi Rescue Dog

NEW YORK, NY – (May 8, 2018) – May is National Military Appreciation Month, making it a great time to do something for those who help protect the nation. There’s one soldier stationed in Afghanistan who is looking for some help this month, as he strives to bring Mimi, his beloved dog, home to the U.S. with him. While it may sound like an easy task, it’s actually a challenge that he can only accomplish through the help of others. Paws of War is leading the fight to help U.S. Army Spec. Zachery McEntire be able to bring the dog that he saved back home with him.

“Mimi is very special to Zack, and we will do everything we can to help keep them together,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “However, bringing a dog from Afghanistan back to the United States is challenging and costly. We can’t do it without the help of the public.”

The process is complicated and the cost to bring Mimi back home with Zack is around $6,000, which covers quarantine, necessary veterinary care, paperwork, and transport charges. The dog is expected to land at JFK airport in June 2018. For one person it is a hefty sum, but for many people who chip in a little bit each, it’s easy to meet that expense and bring the dog to the U.S. The story of how they met is one that further strengthens the bonds between the two.

Zack climbed 50 feet down a garbage burn pit that was filled with used medical supplies in order to save the puppy. The two immediately bonded and Mimi because the brightest part of his day and the most comforting part of his night. Being stationed in one of the most dangerous places in the world, Mimi brought him a sense of peace and comfort that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. Unless he is able to bring Mimi back home to Texas with him, she would end up out on the streets living a harsh life or would end up euthanized.

“I know that I saved Mimi from that burn pit, but in a way I feel like she saved me,” explains Zachery McEntire. “I can’t imagine leaving her behind. We belong together and it means a lot to me to be able to take her home to Texas with me.”

Paws of War has teamed up with the group Nowzad Dogs in Afghanistan to assist with the complex task of getting Mimi to the U.S. Those who would like to donate to help keep Mimi and Zack together can do so online:

pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/52658-war-torn-pups-operation-mimi

“We are committed to helping our soldiers with situations like this Mimi with Zackas we know how much it means to them,” says Dori Scofield, co-founder of Paws of War. “But we can’t do it without the assistance of the public. This is a great way to give back to those who give us so much.”

Paws of War is an all volunteer 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.

 

About 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.

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Ready for Take-Off: G-FORCE Launches National Veteran Franchise Initiative

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G-Force

BEDFORD, N.H. G-FORCE™, one of only two Veteran-focused franchise brands and the only one of its kind awarding franchises exclusively to Veterans, is ready for take-off. The New Hampshire-based concept, which provides expert parking lot striping and other pavement marking needs, seeks to provide business ownership opportunities to hundreds of military Veterans across the country with its one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity.

With one location already servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, G-FORCE™ hopes to open as many as 50 new units over the next 3-5 years. According to founder and CEO Jack Child, the expansion will be accomplished exclusively through franchising and will initially target various cities throughout California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.

“We know the challenges many of our Veterans face when they return to civilian life and, while there are more resources and assistance programs than ever before to help, there’s always more that can and should be done,” said Child. “We want to do our part. We’ve created a one-of-a-kind, low cost franchise business opportunity just for Veterans.”

Child himself is a more than 10-year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having spent three years in the enlisted ranks of the U.S. Army and seven years in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot. He also has seven years of experience in the pavement services and franchise industries.

With attention-grabbing, distinctive camouflage trucks and serviceG-Force trailers, state-of-the-art equipment and military-influenced logo and uniforms, G-FORCE™ has built its brand around today’s Veteran.

Founded in 2017, G-FORCE™ prides itself as the go-to resource for all things line striping and pavement marking – New Layout, Re-Stripe, ADA Compliance, Stencil Markings, Warehouse Flooring, Parking Structure Markings, Outdoor Basketball Courts, Athletic Field Markings and more. Other routine maintenance services G-FORCE™ franchisees may offer include: parking lot sign installation, sealcoating, crack sealing, hot and cold asphalt repairs, new paving, power washing and other property services.

“This is a stealth business that few know about, but one where the demand for our services is unquestionable,” said Child. “Look around. Parking lots are everywhere; strip malls, hospitals, office buildings, schools, municipal airports, town streets. They all require proper pavement markings by law. Somebody has to install them and somebody has to re-stripe them numerous times over.”

To augment the company’s growth, G-FORCE™ is seeking military Veterans, including active Guard or Reserve, interested in starting a business built on the values of integrity, reliability, respect, and precision, and one that ensures first class, military-style service. The franchise fee starts at just $5,000 and generally ranges between $7,500 and $15,000 depending upon territory size. The initial investment can start as low as $25,000.

G-Force“Veterans have the best leadership training in the world. In addition to coming from an integrity-focused background, they are mission-oriented and have a call to fulfill a higher purpose – all traits needed to run a successful business,” added Child. ‘With our low investment, G-FORCE™ is a more comfortable approach for Veterans to become entrepreneurs and answer the call.”

To date, G-FORCE™ has secured national corporate sponsorships for its Veteran initiative from GemSeal®, Sherwin-Williams®, Graco Industries® and The Pavement Stencil Company offering incentives such as a free traffic paint starter package and nationwide discount pricing for equipment and paints, over $7,000 in value, to each new G-FORCE™ franchisee.

To learn more on the G-FORCE™ franchise opportunity, please visit gogforce.com/parking-lot-striping-pavement-marking-franchise-opportunity/.

About G-FORCE

Founded in 2017 and franchising since 2018, G-FORCE™ is a franchise built by veterans for veterans that provides expert Parking Lot Striping, Pavement Marking, Sign Installation Services and more. Today, there is one location servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. For more information, visit gogforce.com.

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

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BLACKMAN_FRANK

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.”

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

Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

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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

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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 veteran.careercast.com/jobs-rated
Source: veteran.careercast.com/jobs-veterans

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

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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 www.elanhomesystems.com.

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 nortekcontrol.com.

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PAVE Employment Event Series Connects Veterans to a World of Opportunity

LinkedIn
PVA

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

LinkedIn
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 Forbes.com