Easterseals serves 20,000 vets and their families in 2018

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Angela Williams-Easterseals

In 2018, nearly 20,000 veterans and military family members received support through Easterseals through an extensive list of programs, including; advocacy and education and employment programs and job training.

Other programs include; military and veterans’ caregiver services, veteran community services and support and health and wellness programs. The organization is led by President and CEO Angela Williams, a retired United States Air Force officer, serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The iconic nonprofit kicks off its 100th anniversary celebration, furthering its mission of supporting the disabled and their families. Over the past century, Easterseals has provided a multitude of disability services to more than 1.5 million people, helping to meet individual and family needs.

Easterseals Military & Veterans Services
Our mission is to ensure that it’s possible for veterans and military families to live their lives to the fullest in every community. We work to break down barriers, engage organizations and communities, and connect veterans and military families with what they need for meaningful employment, education and overall wellness. Our grassroots outreach – through 71 local affiliates in communities nationwide– provide unmatched, accessible, and indispensable resources and support for veterans and military families.

Grassroots Solutions through Easterseals
The needs of veterans and military families are evolving, not disappearing. That’s why Easterseals specializes in identifying the needs of veterans and military families, particularly with employment, job training and support like family respite opportunities. We work to make solutions easily accessible in communities.

Learn More about Easterseals Military and Veterans Services

Discover how we’ve been successful so far in our mission.

Our work in action

  • Advocacy & Education
    Veterans and military families deserve services delivered in an appropriate, timely, and accessible manner. Our Washington, DC-based government relations team works to influence federal and state legislation affecting veterans and military families and actively engages with Congressional staff in pursuit of these goals.
  • Employment Programs and Job Training
    Our employment programs provide the necessary tools to achieve and maintain meaningful employment and a steady income. We offer skills training, job search assistance, employment preparation and guidance. For example, we partner with the Direct Employers Association, which has a membership of about 800 employers who want to hire veterans and people with disabilities. Through this partnership, Easterseals is offering a job search portal at easterseals.jobs, which features job postings from these employers.
  • Military and Veterans Caregiver Services 
    We strive to ensure military caregivers can access what they need to take on the enormous responsibility of caregiving—often, while still needing to work, navigate family life and take care of themselves. We embrace and support military caregivers, particularly as they transition into this new experience, life-long trajectory and unfamiliar — yet vital role — within their families and communities.
  • Veteran Community Services & Support 
    Veterans come home to their families and communities, so serving them must be a community undertaking. That’s why, across the country, we are delivering services that veterans and military families need to live productive, successful lives.
  • Health and Wellness Programs
    We aim to reach as many veterans and military families as possible to provide health resources and programs, including adult dayand medical rehabilitation services.

Additional resources

What are many veterans asking themselves these days? “What to wear?!”  As military members return to civilian life and face the job search, figuring out the right suit to wear to an interview can be the biggest challenge, while the job responsibilities are a breeze. Watch the video below to see why, and help spread the message that veterans are highly skilled and valuable employees. See all three of our military themed public service videos. 

In November 2015, Easterseals hosted Heroes Work Here, an event to educate corporate leaders on hiring and retaining veterans. With friends and partners, we gathered important advice about how to hire America’s best and brightest. Find tips on why and how to hire veterans here!
Watch Travis Mills explain how you can hire veterans with Easterseals’ help right now.

Veteran and Dancing with the Stars winner JR Martinez and veteran and author Travis Mills play word association with Easterseals, our veteran edition!

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates 20th E-Z-GO Vehicle to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Disabled Veterans and Their Families

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Tee it up for troops logo

A golf car is a nice amenity on the golf course, but for families of veterans and active duty service members who are being treated at Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, golf cars are a valuable and needed mode of transportation.

With limited parking and specialized transportation needs, many veterans and their elderly family members are unable to make the journey around a VA hospital campus.

That’s why Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., has partnered with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate customized vehicles to Fisher House, a foundation that provides comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge. Tee It Up for the Troops has donated a “battalion” of E-Z-GO vehicles to Fisher House facilities nationwide, with the recent 20th new ride delivered to the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System in California.

For the last seven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minn., have delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta VA Medical Center in Georgia in 2012, with others reaching the East Coast’s Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the West Coast’s Camp Pendleton in California, and midwestern Fisher Houses in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Minneapolis, Minn.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” said Brian Gawne, Vice President of Community Relations for Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”

“Recently we had a veteran discharged from the hospital after kidney removal surgery and it would have been extremely painful for him to bend into a vehicle to get back to Fisher House,” said Jenny Hall, Manager of the Alaska Fisher House. “The golf car allowed him to easily slide in and out at a comfortable height with minimal pain.”

“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”

Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families.

“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, Director, Communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots, and even into the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”

“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” said Gaby Accad, owner of Versatile Vehicles, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment, and a retractable windshield to block wind and rain.

Accad works with local companies to donate custom features, including red, white and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo, decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars, and shipping of the cars at donated or reduced rates to their destination.

“What this country has provided to me, it’s the least I can do for our soldiers who put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom and the things we cherish in this country,” Accad said.

Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO first learned of the need for a small, efficient vehicle to transport wounded warriors in 2011, when they shipped a vehicle to a military base in Afghanistan to help move soldiers to field hospitals and to get those recovering from injuries around the base. From there, the need to meet increased demands for transport of returning service members with disabilities and their families escalated stateside.

“This is just a continuation of our support for veterans who do incredible things for our country,” Wegscheid said of the vehicles.

About Tee It Up for The Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families.  Based in Minnesota, Tee it Up for the Troops inspires communities across the country to organize golf events to raise funds for partnering veterans service organizations who deliver critically needed services to military families.  These locally-supported events greatly assist returning service members to successfully reintegrate into their communities.  Established in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted over 475 events in more than 40 states and has donated over $10 million to more than 335 various organizations serving veterans across the country.  In addition, through their REUNION initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status.  Through these reunions, participating veterans enhance their transition process into productive and fulfilling civilian lifestyles. For more information visit: teeitupforthetroops.org.

About E-Z-GO
E-Z-GO is an iconic, world-renowned brand in golf cars and personal transportation vehicles. Products sold under the
E-Z-GO brand include RXV® and TXT® fleet golf cars, Freedom® RXV and Freedom TXT personal golf cars, E-Z-GO Express™ personal utility vehicles, and the 2Five® street-legal low-speed vehicle. Known for innovation in electric-vehicle technology, E-Z-GO’s newest offerings include the ELiTE series of lithium-ion powered golf cars and PTVs. Founded in 1954 in Augusta, Ga., E-Z-GO became part of Textron Inc. in 1960, and today operates as part of the company’s Textron Specialized Vehicles division.

About Textron Inc.

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information visit: textron.com.

About Fisher House

Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 82 comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital it serves. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths.  Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room.  Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee.  Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $451 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. For more information visit: fisherhouse.org.

It’s Life or Death for a Puppy in the Middle East

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Bucky with soldier stationed in the Middle East

May is Military Appreciation Month.  What better way to wrap up the month, then by helping our heroes overseas? Morale can be tough to keep when you are a soldier stationed in the Middle East.

Each day brings challenges and often despair. For one soldier and his crew stationed in Kuwait, that all changed when one, tiny puppy entered their camp.

Before the tiny stray made his way into the life of 21-year-old SPC Dakota J. Campbell and his crewmembers, morale was at an all time low. Then one day, the soldiers witnessed a puppy run by their site, being chased by a larger dog. The men proceeded to scare off the dog, and the puppy scurried to hide and got his self stuck in a cement barrier.

As the soldiers saved the puppy from near death, it didn’t take long before they realized that the puppy actually saved them. They named this little guy Bucky and he lifted their spirits, gave them hope, and helped inspire them each day. With Bucky around, they felt a sense of home.

“We can only imagine the difficulty these soldiers in war torn areas face on a daily basis,” explains Robert Misseri of Paws of War. “The fact that this dog helped our heroes get through some of the darkest days in their life is testament to the abilities of a dog. We must try to get Bucky to the United States.  It is the least we can do for SPC Campbell and the crew.”

Now Campbell is heading back to the states, where he will be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Rather than leave Bucky in Kuwait, where his fate would be certain death as a street dog, he is reaching out to us all to get Bucky to America, where he can live his life in security and peace with SPC Campbell, and they can both have a genuine, true sense of home.

“Bucky may have saved us, but I can’t bear to leave him behind, it’s time for me to once again save him,” added Campbell. “I have one dog at home, which is like my only son, and I can’t wait for Bucky to meet him. It will be a dream come true for me to be able to bring Bucky to Texas.”

Bringing a dog back to America from the Middle East is no easy task, and it’s a costly process. Paws of War is supported solely by donations and has helped numerous soldiers to bring their rescued dogs back from the Middle East. To help make the mission possible, they are asking everyone to pitch in and thank this Army team for protecting our freedom by donating toward Bucky’s journey to the U.S. Every dollar makes a difference.  To learn more about Campbell and Bucky’s story and to make a donation, log online: pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/saving-bucky.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

After Winning Medals In Afghanistan, Veteran Brings Number One Home Inspection Company To Pasadena, CA

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Spencer Velez poses in uniform) in a military vehicle

Spencer Velez knows how to use his expertise and skills. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 14 years. The now 35-year-old deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for superior performance of duties while serving in a direct combat service support role.

As if those achievements weren’t enough, Velez then completed graduate school at the University of Southern California (USC) earning a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree in a program designed to leverage the management and leadership experience gained during military service.

While attending graduate school, he applied these skills to his role in Corporate Compliance with The Walt Disney Company. In that role, he ensured wherever Disney products were manufactured, the workers were provided a safe and inclusive environment.

In May, he added a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise to round out his business skills. Velez will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Alhambra, Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Burbank, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Rosemead, Monterey Park, Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

Spencer Valez smiling in headshot
Spencer Valez, Pillar to Post Home Inspectors

The brand is a favorite among veterans such as Velez. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post Home Inspectors franchisees were military vets. “Pillar to Post provides a service that brings people happiness and positively impacts the community by educating the client about the home – purchasing a home is a big and exciting step and we are a part of that journey,” said Velez. “I have great plans to grow the business to its maximum potential with multiple professional home inspectors and valuable services. I will be a leader built on a reputation of respect and hard work which I learned through my military service.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its 19th year in a row on that list.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit pillartopostfranchise.com.

How to Celebrate Memorial Day at the Office

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Woman veteran in office wearing US Flag pin

By Hiliary Innerbichler

Stuck at work on Memorial Day Monday? Here are some ways to celebrate.

Honor the Fallen
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans—the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)—established Decoration Day, now Memorial Day, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. So honor the fallen by taking an office field trip to a local cemetery to lay flowers on a veteran’s grave.

Dress in Red, White, and Blue
A simple but classic way to show your support for our nation’s fallen heroes is to dress in the patriotic colors of the flag.

Run a Book Drive
Ever heard of Operation Paperback? Now celebrating its 20-year anniversary, nonprofit Operation Paperback has sent over 2,853,347 books to deployed troops, veterans, military families, VA hospitals, USOs, and Red Cross units in 35 countries. Have your office pitch in and send a collection of books to Operation Paperback!

Take a Moment to Observe
Established by Congress, the National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans to pause in an act of national unity at 3:00 p.m. local time for one minute to honor those who died in service to our country.

Share on Social Media
Have you lost a family member who died in military service? Take a moment on Memorial Day to remember them by posting a picture on your social media platform and sharing your thanks and love.

This is what it’s like to be a working military spouse

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Military Spouse with family

The hunt for a steady job can be daunting for military spouses, a quarter of whom are reportedly unemployed. All military spouses are faced with unpredictability, which often makes them less attractive to employers,but wives–who account for more than 90% of military spouses–are also subject to the issues that all women contend with in the workplace, from the gender pay gap to the motherhood penalty. Even among military spouses, men are more likely to be gainfully employed: According to a recent Blue Star Families survey, about half of male spouses work full-time, while just 27% of female spouses do. Women’s earnings potential is also compromised, with just 19% of female spouses making more than $50,000, as compared to 44% of male spouses.

But working, period, is a challenge when an active duty spouse can be deployed for months on end. “You’re not a single parent,” one military spouse told me. “But you’re a sole provider for your children, and your spouse has no predictability. They can’t control anything about when they’re there or not. Sometimes you’re in the middle of breakfast, and they leave, and you don’t know when they’re coming back.” For some spouses, entrepreneurship or remote work is the answer, but that brings its own challenges. We talked to three military spouses about what it’s like to find work while juggling unpredictable schedules and childcare responsibilities.

“I had to have three different back-up nannies”

“I think being a military spouse is the privilege of my life thus far,” says Maggie, who is now an entrepreneur. “But it’s really hard.”

Maggie, who has been a military spouse for eight years, has lived in more than seven states; her husband is usually gone about six months out of the year. She started her own company about three years ago, after working in a number of tech roles. “One of the things I’ve found really wonderful about being an entrepreneur is that it’s allowed me to have a high degree of flexibility,” she says. “But I wouldn’t say that my story is necessarily typical.”

For military spouses like Maggie who are parents, juggling work with childcare is even more of a challenge, since their spouse may have to leave at a moment’s notice. “It’s not just like a business trip,” she says. “They’re out for weeks or many months, and you’re not able to anticipate when they’re going to depart or come home.” To prepare for a recent weekend work trip, Maggie had to put three nannies on hold to take care of her four-month-old and two-and-a-half-year-old.

And yet many military spouses gravitate toward jobs in, say, education or healthcare–roles that don’t necessarily offer flexibility and require different licensing by state. In dual military families, Maggie says the woman may often choose to step back from an operational role. Despite the prevalence of remote work, Maggie hasn’t seen a big shift in military spouses working remotely. The remote opportunities are fewer for military spouses, she says, and especially if they work in fields like nursing. “You don’t see a lot of highly skilled remote-work opportunities,” she says. “A lot of the communities aren’t necessarily hubs of innovation. So how would you even establish the relationships to have those opportunities?”

Though there are now many initiatives to help veterans join the civilian workforce, companies don’t necessarily try to recruit military spouses–and in fact, they’re often biased against them. “One of the challenges is that it’s kind of out of sight, out of mind,” Maggie says. “People don’t remember that we’re still in Afghanistan. It’s kind of forgotten that deployment cycles are still very much a reality in these communities.” She adds that it would serve companies well to recruit military spouses for remote work. “If companies are looking for people to do certain types of remote positions, it would be a fabulous community to tap into,” she says. “You’d find a hungry workforce.”

For Maggie, a key motivator to start her own business was having women in her life who showed her what her career could look like. It also helped that she had cofounded software companies prior to becoming a military spouse. “I think I had role models in other women who were like, There is a way to navigate this,” she says. “Largely it’s been about seeking mentors. If a military spouse wants to start something, there are ways to do it.”

“It’s just different being a male spouse. You get excluded a bit”

David was a college basketball coach for 20 years. That changed when he married someone in the military four years ago. Since then, David and his family have lived in three different places, and in a few months, they’ll be making their way from North Carolina to Washington, D.C. “Those [coaching] jobs are pretty limited,” he says. “It’s not like I was a lawyer or a mechanic–jobs that are anywhere in the world.”

David struggled to find a professional coaching job that would be close enough to his family and where his wife needed to be. When he applied for an athletic director’s position at a junior college, he made it to the final round of interviews and then didn’t get the job, partly because he was a military spouse, he believes. So he now works remotely part-time for a company his friend started, which runs a college basketball tournament in Jamaica. (In general, he says, the male military spouses he knows work remotely.)

“I could live anywhere in the world as long as I have my phone and computer,” he says. He concedes he could have taken a different type of job altogether, if something in the realm of coaching wasn’t a viable option. “If I wanted to get a job at Kinko’s or something like that, I’m sure I could probably do those kinds of jobs,” he says. “But something in a professional field is a little more difficult.”

It was also important to David and his wife for one of them to stay home with their children, since they welcomed a new daughter two months ago. “You can’t pass up the time that you could spend with your kids,” he says. “I’ve been there every day with my daughter, and luckily, I found something where I can still work at home and be around the kids and make it work.” When you’re a military family, he points out, you also can’t rely as much on family support. “The odds of you living by your family are pretty slim,” he says. (Last year, when David had to fly to Jamaica for work, his wife was also deployed; they had to ask her aunt and uncle to stay with the kids for a week.)

As a male spouse, David sometimes feels like he isn’t always included in the military spouse community. Many spouses tend to be in pink-collar fields like nursing and teaching, he says, or run small businesses out of their home. When work opportunities arise, they’re often directed at women; some of the workshops offered to military spouses school them in how to start a successful Avon business, for example. “It’s just different being a male spouse,” he says. “There are groups on Facebook, but it feels like you’re the only male. They’ll write, ‘Hey ladies, this opportunity opened up that is perfect for us,’ but you don’t really fit that bill. So you get excluded a bit.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

#1 Franchise for Veterans Expanding into South Carolina Lowcountry

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Dream Vacations

Charleston, S.C. (May 8, 2019) – Nationally recognized and leading travel agency franchise Dream Vacations is expanding its footprint in South Carolina and is seeking potential new franchise owners.

To introduce itself to the region, the agency has sponsored several community events through membership with the Summerville YMCA including the Shamrock Shuffle and Flowertown. In addition, the travel agency will be hosting the first ever Charleston Cruise & Travel Show on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott.

“As booking vacations becomes more complex with all of the vacation options which can be found on the internet, travel agents are making a comeback and there is no time like the present to get started in this industry,” said Janet Harris, director of recruitment for Dream Vacations. “We like to say that people have a dream list, rather than bucket list, of where they want to travel, and since travel is no longer considered a luxury, Americans are looking to make these dream vacations become reality. South Carolina is perfect for travel franchisees because not only do they live in a popular tourist destination, but they have easy access to the Port of Charleston making it possible for locals to visit exotic destinations without having to fly.”

Tourism is booming in Charleston, S.C. due to a cruise terminal that is growing in popularity as a home port and the city’s frequent ranking as one of the best places to visit in the U.S. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, there are more than 15,000 military retirees in this region and 20,000 active duty personnel making a $10.8 billion economic impact. This coupled with Dream Vacations being a leading franchise opportunity for veterans, as well as South Carolina ranked a “Top 10 State for Franchise Growth” by the International Franchise Association (IFA) in its annual Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2018, make it an opportune time for Dream Vacations to focus on expanding to this region.

All military veterans and Gold Star families who purchase a Dream Vacations travel agency business receive an enlistment package valued at no less than $5,000 and ongoing support. They can select one of four perks currently being offered — 2019 National Conference cabin aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas valued at $2,100; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a surface pro tablet valued at $1,000. They also receive a waived training fee for a business partner; veteran-themed marketing assets; and the ability to hire active-duty military spouses and veterans as associates at a discount. Additional veteran incentives include the ability to move residences and stay in business, LeisureCare Travel Insurance discounts for veterans, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups. In addition, Dream Vacations is hosting its eighth annual award-winning Operation Vetrepreneur contest which awards five free franchises to military veterans from Monday, May 27, 2019, through Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Dream Vacations is looking for franchisees who are passionate about travel, helping others and are eager to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves. No experience selling travel is necessary because all new franchise owners attend an award-winning six-day training at Dream Vacations’ world headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, where they learn how to use Dream Vacations’ industry-leading booking systems and get an introduction to the cruise and resort vacation industry. New franchisees can open their home-based business for less than $10,000 and work anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Veterans interested in learning more about how they can parlay their military skills into business ownership, please visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com or call 888-249-8235. To learn more about the Charleston Cruise & Travel Show, visit www.CruiseAndTravelShow.com. Tickets are $10 and military veterans who use the promo code MILITARY will receive half off.

About Dream Vacations

Travel agents with the top-ranked home-based travel agency franchise Dream Vacations have the resources to plan and create seamless vacation experiences for their customers while offering the best value. A member of the International Franchise Association, Dream Vacations is part of World Travel Holdings and has received partner of the year, a top-ranking status, by all the major cruise lines as well as national recognition for its support of military veterans. For more information about Dream Vacations, visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com. Like Dream Vacations on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DreamVacationsFranchise, follow on Twitter at @Dream_Franchise and watch its videos at http://www.youtube.com/DreamVacationsBusiness.

When to Start Your Military Transition

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transitioning veterans

Should you stay or should you go? It’s a question everyone asks at various points in their career, and one with specific importance for service members.

The military transition process involves numerous factors—from finding a job to navigation of the VA system.

Steve Leonard—aka, Doctrine Man—is a retired Army colonel and the program director for the Master of Science program in Business and Organizational Leadership at the University of Kansas. He’s also the creator of the popular Doctrine Man, a humorous military cartoon that blossomed into an online brand with nearly 200,000 followers. Leonard discusses his own military transition and the important considerations for every service member.

“The lesson that I took from my own transition … was that you never know everything that you need to know to make a successful transition until after you transition,” Leonard said. Another fatal flaw is attempting to go through the process alone. Because the process is personal, the one-size-fits-most approach of standardized training is not going to tell you what you need to know.

Transition Tip #1: Find a Mentor

“You kind of have to find those areas that are important for you, and then find a coach or mentor to help you in the process,” Leonard said. “You don’t take on the VA without a coach or mentor.”

Whether it’s navigating the process of applying for VA benefits or health care, finding a contract or civilian job, or relocating to a military-friendly state—when it comes to almost any aspect of the transition process, you can find individuals within your military network who have faced the same questions before. If you don’t have them, be proactive in reaching out to find those who can help.

“If you want to get a job in the GS [civilian service] system, don’t wait until you’re retired, or you’re sitting in the ACAP [Army Career and Alumni Program] system,” Leonard said. “Find someone who’s done it. Find someone who understands the process.”

Transition Tip #2: Have a Plan

“I went through executive ACAP, and you could have drawn a line and split the class in two halves of the people who wanted to start T-shirt businesses and the other half, who wanted to start CrossFit gyms,” said Leonard. “No one knew what they were going to do, and they were all within months of transition.”

If you’re planning to start your own business, you should have a business plan, know the tax laws, and be prepared for the financial and administrative aspects of running a business, notes Leonard. And the earlier you do that, the better. Don’t count on the transition program to give you all of the information you need to know.

“We tend to look at things as, you’ve served X number of years, the military’s going to take care of you on the way out,” said Leonard. “That may be true to some extent. But don’t expect them to hold your hand all the way through transition.”

Transition Tip #3: Take Jobs That Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone

The skills that help you with your post-military career may be skills you acquire from unexpected assignments. That’s why lifelong learning and a successful transition go hand-in-hand. If you’ve focused on making the best of every job along the way, you’re more likely to have both skills and a network of mentors to assist you navigating that post-military career.

For Leonard, one of those assignments was running a strategic communications office—despite not being a public affairs officer or having a communications background. It was a job he didn’t want, but one that turned out to be invaluable for helping him navigate his worth and role after the military.

“That was a job that helped me learn about branding, marketing, and my own professional value outside of the bounds of what I was doing,” said Leonard. For many service members, toward the end of their career, the temptation may be to take the easy job that allows more down time versus the challenging job that requires more effort. But if you’re looking to keep gaining value from your career all the way to the finish, that’s the wrong approach.

“Maybe handing out towels at the gym for the last year you’re in the military isn’t what you need to do,” notes Leonard.

When it comes to seeking out new positions and tackling unwelcome assignments, the approach you take directly relates to what you’ll get out of every position—and how it will help you in your overall career.

“I believed all along that if I focused on making a difference, things would work out,” said Leonard. “And generally, that proves to be true. There’s a silver lining in every cloud, you just have to find it. Even the worst assignment will play out, but you have to find a way to make it work for you.”

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Gary Sinise: From Self to Service

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By Brady Rhoades

Two events changed Gary Sinise’s life: playing Lt. Dan in the Oscar-winning 1993 movie Forrest Gump, and Sept. 11, 2001. The first provoked countless encounters with Vietnam veterans who identified with the heroic, sorrowful, raging and, finally, redemptive Lt. Dan.

The latter went even deeper. His country had been attacked. America changed that day, and so did Sinise. His life’s focus shifted from self to service. “It set the stage for working with the wounded after that terrible day,” he said. “I couldn’t sit back. I wanted to let our service members know they were appreciated … then, the men and women who serve our country raised their hands and I thought, ‘I can take a proactive role in backing them up.’”

Twenty six years after Lt. Dan captured American’s imagination as a ravaged Vietnam vet utterly lost and ultimately found—and 18 years after the United States was attacked on its own soil and more than 3,000 lost their lives, Sinise has penned a New York Times bestselling book that describes his journey: Grateful American: From Self to Service. “I am grateful to be an American,” he said, in an interview with U.S Veterans Magazine. “That’s something I will always cherish.”

It took about a cup of coffee for Grateful American to hit the New York Times Best Seller list in early 2019. Sinise describes his journey from self to service in a plain-spoken, compelling way. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue, titled “Stunned,” in which he’s accepting an award from the Disabled Veterans of American for his performance as Lt. Dan: “When our veterans returned  from the first Gulf War, unlike Vietnam, they were greeted with giant parades in New York and a  few other cities. Yet even though our country eventually tried to make amends with Vietnam  veterans by supporting them as they created the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., and with some cities in the mid-1980s hosting a few welcome-home. parades, now in 1994, I can still sense remnants of this rift in our country, this stillopen wound for the veterans of the Vietnam War.

Little do I know how significant this moment at the convention will become in my life. Seeds are being planted that will grow into a tree with many branches. For it’s here that I first begin to ask myself, ‘How can I make a difference in restoring what’s been lost? How can I help make sure our veterans are never treated that way again?’”

Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital
Sinise visits an injured service member in the hospital

Since publishing the book through Nelson Books, Sinise has been hearing from readers, including veterans. “I’m thrilled whenever I hear from a veteran,” said Sinise, 64. Sinise is an actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Sinise is known for several memorable roles. These include George Milton in Of Mice and Men, Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Harry S. Truman in Truman (for which he won a Golden Globe), Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13, Detective Jimmy Shaker in Ransom, and Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY(2004–13).

Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois. His father, Robert, was a film editor. He graduated from Highland Park High in Highland Park, Illinois. He later graduated from Illinois University. His legacy at Highland Park has been secured. In the 1970s, Sinise and two friends founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The theatre, a non-profit, continues to thrive today.

He started off as a rebel and a musician. His parents bought him a guitar when he was a boy, but he noticed everyone was playing guitar, so he switched to bass, which he still plays today. The hugely popular Lt. Dan Band, which plays mostly rock’n’ roll and country covers that are favorites among troops, has played for service members all over the world.

It’s one of many services he provides through the Gary Sinise Foundation, which he founded after 9/11 to ensure that today’s veterans are not treated like the Lt. Dans of the Vietnam War.

Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival
Gary Sinise Foundation Invincible Spirit Festival

Sinise is an actor at his core. But his work for the troops just might be his lasting legacy. His journey from self to service has resulted in these staggering numbers from his foundation: —Building 70 specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded heroes; —More than 102,400 attendees at the Invincible Spirit Festivals since 2012; —More than 175,000 meals served to our nation’s defenders across the country; —About 460 support concerts for our troops, sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation; —More than 7,000 vets have joined Gary and crew for “Vets Night” performances; —About 1,700 children of fallen military heroes and their surviving parents/guardians attended the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express event in 2018.

“Snowball” is a word Sinise favors. He hopes his, and others’, support of our active troops and veterans creates a snowball effect.

“Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” he said. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

“We have tremendous supporters who support the Gary Sinise Foundation,” he added. “There’s an unfortunate disconnect between our people and those who defend this country. I encourage all of us to get to know the people who are protecting you.”

He stresses that veterans are everywhere. You don’t have to put on concerts for thousands; you can support one veteran, and that’s a big deal. “Look within your own neighborhood, your town, yourstate.”

Here’s one more excerpt from Grateful American that encapsulates Sinise’s attitude, and personal journey: “There have been any number of ups and downs in myn life, and there was a time when I wasn’t concerned about too much more than my own career. But slowly things changed. It’s my hope that as I share these stories from my life, you will be entertained and maybe even inspired, too—empowered to overcome obstacles, embrace gratitude, and engage in service above self.”

International Delight Kicks Off Military Appreciation Month By Announcing Partnership With Pets for Vets

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Pets for Vets logo

Broomfield, Colo. – [May 1, 2019] – In honor of Military Appreciation Month, International Delight has committed $150,000 to support the national organization Pets for Vets. The creamer brand also launched S’mores, a new limited-edition flavor, which features the Pets for Vets pawprint logo on every bottle.

This debuts as part of the brand’s limited-edition, Americana-themed summer collection. International Delight developed this summer collection to encourage its fans to support this cause dedicated to hugs and companionship.

International Delight values Pets for Vets’ mission to help shelter animals find loving forever homes with veterans. This contribution is anticipated to cover the cost of a number of initiatives, including:

  • 30 veteran and pet matches
  • Continued education for Pets for Vets trainers
  • Medicine and preventative supplies for matches

“The opportunity to match veterans with a new companion and give pets in need loving homes struck a chord with us and we knew from our first conversation that we had to get involved,” said Jessica Strouse, senior associate brand manager for International Delight. “We are proud to support the Pets for Vets team with a contribution, and also to have the opportunity to use our beloved brand to raise awareness for their efforts with the addition of their symbol to our latest launch — International Delight S’mores Creamer.”

More than 6 million pets enter shelters in the United States each year, and 20% of returning military veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Pets for Vets uses the powerful bond between humans and animals to help both by pairing them together.

“We’re incredibly thankful for this support that will help us reach more veterans and shelter animals than ever before, and we’re thrilled this partnership goes beyond just a contribution thanks to International Delight’s dedication to raising awareness of our efforts,” said Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets. “Since we began in 2009, we’ve been fortunate to do a lot of great work and working with International Delight will help us do even more.”

Celebrating summertime, the contributions of veterans and love for pets, the full Americana-themed collection features red, white and blue packaging across the brand’s French Vanilla and Cold Stone® Sweet Cream varieties, as well as the new S’mores variety. Bringing a campfire to your coffee cup, International Delight S’mores Creamer combines the chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow flavors of the nostalgic summertime treat.

The full Americana-themed collection is available in grocery and mass-market retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.79. For more information on Pets for Vets, including how to get involved in a nearby chapter, head to petsforvets.com.

About International Delight®

International Delight® was launched in 1987 and was the first flavored, liquid, non-dairy creamer on the market. There’s an art to the perfect cup, and we celebrate a masterpiece of flavor fantasy every single time. We’re flavor crazy and black coffee just does not exist in our universe. Never has, never will. International Delight® Iced Coffee and creamers are available at grocery, convenience stores, mass merchandisers and food service outlets across the country. For more information, visit InternationalDelight.com.

About Danone North America

International Delight® is made by Danone North America, a Certified B Corporation® business unit of Danone that operates in the U.S. from headquarter offices in White Plains, NY and Broomfield, CO. Danone North America was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2017 to nourish people, communities and the world through its diverse portfolio of healthful dairy- and plant-based products, coffee creamers and beverages. Its portfolio of brands includes: Activia®, DanActive®, Danimals®, Dannon®, Danonino®, Horizon Organic®, International Delight®, Light & Fit®, Oikos®, Silk®, So Delicious Dairy Free®, STōK®, Two Good™, Vega®, Wallaby Organic® and YoCrunch®. The mission of Danone North America and that of Danone worldwide is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. For more information, please visit DanoneNorthAmerica.com. To find more information on Danone North America’s B Corp™ status, visit: bcorporation.net/directory/danone-north-america.

About Pets for Vets

Headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, Pets for Vets, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with chapters in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. Pets for Vets® helps heal the emotional wounds of military Veterans by using the power of the human-animal bond to provide a second chance for shelter animals that are rescued, trained and paired with American Veterans who could benefit from a companion animal. To learn more go to petsforvets.com.