Understanding Veteran-Owned Business Certifications

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Terms like 8a, SDVOSB, VOSB, and CVE can be confusing for many veterans related to what they might be eligible to use and what the status means to their company.

Why should I get a Veteran certification?

If you are selling to the government or if you are selling to major companies that do business with the government, a Veteran certification gives you more tools in your marketing toolbox—it may give you leverage in some contract bidding. Each year, the federal government is required to buy a certain percentage of their purchases from small businesses and businesses that have minority or presumed disadvantaged status.

Sometimes the government reaches its goals through bid preferences. In a bid preference, if a non-certified company and a certified company both bid $100,000, the certified preference company bid might be viewed as $95,000, thereby giving them the winning bid.

In other cases, the procuring agent might decide that only a certain classification of businesses could bid on a particular contract. This is referred to as a “set aside” solicitation. In the set aside scenario, a procurement officer may decide to only open the bidding process to a minority or preference class of business. Any company that did not have the required certification would not be able to bid on the project. One limitation to this setting is that if there are not at least two businesses of this classification bidding, the bid may have to be reissued and opened to a wider group. In some cases, a procurement officer may be able to justify a sole source contract, but that is the exception, not the rule.

What are the types of Veterans certifications available?

Currently, the federal Veteran status certifications and the agencies that confirm them are:

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) 8a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small business (SDVOSB). The SBA 8a SDVOSB requires an application process to validate the certified status. For the certified SBA’s 8a SDVOSB, only Veterans who are service-connected disabled Veterans can apply.
  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB). This status is self-certified by the business owner in the System for Award Management (SAM) Website.
  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). This status is self-certified by the business owner in the SAM Website.
  • Veteran Administration (VA) Certified Veteran Enterprise (CVE) Veteran Owned Small Business. The VA CVE is primarily used for the VA’s Vets First program. It is not a substitute for the SBA 8a certification.
  • VA CVE SDVOSB. As noted above, the CVE is mainly for doing business with the VA.

Am I Eligible?

The question of eligibility is where things get to be a little murky at first. Any Veteran, honorably discharged from military service can self-certify as a VOSB in SAM if they meet the following conditions:

  • The Veteran or Veterans must own a minimum of 51 percent of the business.
  • The Veteran or Veterans owning the business must show control of the day-to-day operations of the business and must be the highest-ranking officer of the company. In some cases, where a Veteran is severely disabled, some of that operational control may be handled by a spouse or other family member.
  • To qualify for the Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), the disability must be a service connected disability and must be shown on the DD214 document issued when discharged from the service.

For the three certifications issued by the SBA or the VA, the same requirements listed above apply, but must all be supported by documentation to prove ownership and control. Although the documentation may at times seem cumbersome, it is used to verify that the business is indeed owned and operated by the Veteran. This protects the true Veteran-owned businesses and allows them to compete competitively.

Source: Florida SBDC at University of South Florida

Military Makeover with Montel Williams Renovates Family Home of Late Chris Hixon, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Athletic Director in Parkland, FL, and 27 Year Navy Veteran.

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Military Makeover logo Montel Williams and Chris and Debra Hixon

U.S. Navy veteran Chris Hixon, a 27-year veteran (5 active, 22 reserve) who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, sacrificed his life on February 14, 2018, when the Athletic Director ran into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and tried to save the lives of students by disarming an active shooter.

Hixon is survived by his wife Debra and their two sons, Thomas and Corey.

Debra, also the  daughter of a Navy veteran, has been a teacher for 29 years, serving as a Magnet Coordinator at South Broward High School’s Marine Science Maritime Magnet Program and cares for her special needs son, Cory, who was a big part of the makeover. Cory’s room was inspired by his love for prayer and church.

“He loved being American and serving his country, and he instilled it in his students,” Debra said. Chris Hixon received Military Funeral Honors before he was laid to rest at the age of 49 at the South Florida VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth, FL, on Feb. 21, 2018.

In partnership with major national and local brands, the Military Makeover team comes prepared with building supplies, designs, furniture, gifts and much more from the generous partnerships cultivated by the show.

Additionally, volunteers will be invited to participate and lend a hand in support of the Hixon Family during the renovation of the home they shared for 28 years.

The first episode airs on February 14th at 7:30am EST, the second year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School.

All aired episodes can be found at militarymakeover.tv/

FDA agrees to expand access to ecstasy for PTS treatment

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Young depressed military man talking about emotional problems with psychotherapist at doctor's office

MDMA, an illegal psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy or molly, could be used to treat post-traumatic stress, researchers say. But access to the drug for testing has been difficult, even though the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 designated it as a “breakthrough therapy” for PTS treatment.

Veterans experience PTS at a higher rate than the rest of the population. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 11-20 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTS, compared to about 8 percent of non-veterans.

Clinical tests of the drug are in their third phase, but people whose moderate or severe PTS  is resistant to other treatments could potentially benefit from early access to MDMA, according to the nonprofit research group, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

MAPS plans to allow early access to “potentially beneficial investigational therapies for people facing a serious or life-threatening condition for whom currently available treatments have not worked,” according to a MAPS news release

Phase 3 clinical trials are ongoing for the drug’s use in treating PTS, but the new approval from FDA will allow a select 50 patients at up to 10 sites in the U.S. earlier access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Clinical trials are expected to be completed by 2021, meaning the FDA could approve the drug as soon as 2022.

MDMA is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen, producing an energizing effect, distortions in perception, increased self-awareness and empathy and “enhanced enjoyment from sensory experiences,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The resurgence of research into using drugs such as MDMA to catalyze psychotherapy is the most promising and exciting development I’ve seen in my psychiatric career,” Dr. Michael Mithoefer, acting medical director for MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, said in a statement.

MAPS hopes FDA will provide additional expanded access once it shows the drug helped its first 35 patients.

Patients who participate in the treatment take a dose of the drug in a controlled clinical environment as part of a course of psychotherapy. They’ll also be responsible for the costs of their treatment, unlike in the clinical trials.

After the drug is approved, patients will still not be able to take MDMA at home, and won’t fill prescriptions at a local pharmacy. The drug will only be available through a certified doctor in a supervised therapeutic setting, MAPS said.

The expanded access or “compassionate use,” requires at least one therapist involved in treatment have a medical or clinical doctorate degree.

Selection of the 10 sites that will offer the treatment is expected to be announced in the coming months. More than 120 sites have applied, according to MAPS. Once the program starts, patients can apply to their preferred site.

Continue on to ConnectingVets.com to read the complete article.

Navy to name new aircraft carrier for African American WWII hero

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Doris "Dorie" Miller pictured in his Nvy uniform

The US Navy will name a new aircraft carrier after Doris “Dorie” Miller, a decorated African American World War II veteran who defended Pearl Harbor during the 1941 attack on the Hawaii naval base, making it the first aircraft carrier to be named after an African American.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the slain civil rights leader.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun aboard the battleship USS West Virginia “until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship,” according to a Navy biography, which said he “had not been trained to operate” the weapon. Miller said he believed he shot down a Japanese plane during the attack, the biography said. The following year, Miller received the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Navy, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.

“Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation,” Modly said. “His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today.”

The aircraft carrier to be named after Miller will also be the first one named after an enlisted sailor, Modly added. Miller fought in the Pacific Theater until November 1943, when the ship he was assigned to was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo. He was listed as missing for a year and a day before being presumed dead on November 25, 1944, according to his biography.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller also received the Purple Heart Medal and the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, according to the Navy. In 1973, a Knox-class frigate was named in honor of Miller, but was later decommissioned in the 1990s.

Continue on to CNN News to read the complete article.

Sailor Spotlight! Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

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Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole

SAN DIEGO – Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jonathan Cole, from Anaheim, Calif., assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), participates in the E-7 Navy-wide advancement exam.

Bonhomme Richard is in its homeport of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary DiPadova)

The men and women in the U.S. Navy are deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

Source: outreach.navy.mil

Army veteran who said prosthetic legs were repossessed to get new pair from VA

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veteran Jerry Holliman pictured whose prosthetic leges repossessd

Last August, two months after doctors amputated his left leg, Holliman received a pair of prosthetic legs from Hanger. He had begun therapy sessions with the company at the Collins State Veterans Home to learn how to properly walk.

That all came to halt on Dec. 23 when a representative from Hanger repossessed his prosthetic legs after learning the VA would not pay for them. It was a huge blow to Holliman’s hopes of being able to return to home in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the holidays.

“It’s like somebody walked up to you and gave you a punch in the gut,” Holliman said. “Why would you come and take a veteran’s legs?’

The set of prosthetic legs were returned to Holliman a few days later. However, Holliman said Hanger would no longer make the needed adjustments that allowed him to properly use the prosthetic legs until someone paid for them.

The VA told Holliman that the prosthetics legs were obtained as a private purchase, which precluded them from paying for them on his behalf. Instead, he said he was told to use Medicare to pay for them. He refused that option because he said using Medicare would have required him to pay a co-pay.

Krisita Burkey, the vice president of public relations and communications at Hanger, told Fox News in a statement that patient privacy laws prevented the company from talking about Holliman’s case specifically. However, she said, “Hanger does not take back prosthetic devices once a patient signs for the delivery.

“A signed verification of delivery is a necessary step in the delivery process due to regulations, but actual payment is not required upon delivery to the patient,” the statement continued. “Payment is typically received from the applicable payer, whether it is a private insurer, Medicare/Medicaid or the VA, at a later date.”

Walker told Fox News that Holliman had come to the VA’s prosthetics department in Jackson shortly after his left leg was amputated. Holliman inquired about the VA making him a pair of prosthetic legs, but Walker said the VA was unable to begin the process at the time.

“We cannot begin a prosthetic evaluation until the skin is completely healed because of the pressure and the things that are required to wear and use a prosthetic device,” he explained.

Walker, who was given permission by Holliman to speak about the case to Fox News, said the 69-year-old never followed up with the VA after that visit. Instead, he said Holliman went to a private clinic and then to Hanger to obtain prosthetic legs.

“We want veterans to use us,” Walker said. “If a veteran chooses to go outside of our system, we cannot, unfortunately, take on the responsibilities for private purchases and that’s the case.”

Holliman denied that he had gone to Hanger on his own to get prosthetic legs. He said he had no authority to make his own appointments and was following directives from medical personnel at the state-run veterans home where he’s resided for the last year.

After the VA’s decision to give him a new set of prosthetic legs, Holliman told Fox News he accepted an appointment for later this month. However, after this ordeal, he remains skeptical.

“I can’t walk on proposals. I need to see it [to] fruition,” Holliman said. “I’m trying to recoup my life. I can’t do it on my own. I need the help of the VA.”

Continue on to FOX News to read the complete article.

Army Green Berets earn over 50 combat awards — including three Silver Stars — in Afghanistan

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Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base

Dozens of Green Berets received valor awards, including three Silver Star medals, in a recent ceremony meant to highlight the bravery and dedication that members of 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) showed during a recent Afghanistan deployment.

In addition to the trio of Silver Stars — the military’s third-highest personal award for combat bravery — officials also presented seven Bronze Stars for valor and 17 Army Commendation medals. The 27 valor awards were presented during the ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., officials said.

“This is a reminder that even in the modern age, warfare is still about courage under fire,” said Col. Steven M. Marks, deputy commander of 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), in a 7th Group statement. Marks presented the medals at Eglin’s Liberty Chapel.

The unit’s soldiers also earned 21 Purple Hearts during the combat zone deployment, a 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) spokesman told Stars and Stripes.

The decorations were awarded to the soldiers of 7th Group’s 2nd Battalion for actions during a six-month deployment in late 2018.

The Bronze Star is for acts of heroism of a lesser degree than the Silver Star, which is awarded for acts of gallantry of a higher degree than those meriting any other U.S. combat decoration except the Medal of Honor or service crosses. The Army Commendation medal ranks below the Bronze Star.

Pictured above: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2019, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) Deputy Commander Col. Steven M. Marks salutes a 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier during a ceremony at the chapel on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after presenting him a medal for valorous acts during the battalion’s recent deployment to Afghanistan. Liberty chapel on Jan. 9. Jose Vargas/U.S. Army
JOSE VARGAS/U.S. ARMY

Four Green Berets who had earned additional valor awards — two Bronze Stars and two Army Commendation medals — were absent. Twenty-six soldiers earned valor awards, with five of them earning two valor awards and six earning both an award for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

“The valor we are recognizing today happened at the most tactical level — face to face fighting, close quarters combat, hand grenade-range,” Marks said.

The 7th Group statement did not provide details of the specific acts that were recognized, which occurred during a war that has largely faded from public view during which most offensive operations are carried out by shadowy commando units.

A relative few U.S. troops, typically special operations forces, have gone into combat or served on the front lines in Afghanistan since 2014, often as part of unilateral or joint operations with their Afghan counterparts during separate U.S. counterterrorism mission.

During 2nd Battalion’s deployment from September 2018 to February 2019, some 14,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the country, most as part of a NATO mission training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces for battling a Taliban insurgency against the Kabul government.

Continue on to Stars and Stripes to read the complete article.

Defense Department expands commissary access to more military members

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Commissary building

The New Year brought new perks for some military members and their families.

The Department of Defense expanded shopping privileges at its commissaries to a number of new groups, including Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, all veterans with service-connected disabilities and individuals approved as the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans.

The expanded eligibility went into effect Jan. 1.

Other patrons authorized to shop at commissaries by the Department of Defense include active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans and authorized family members.

Commissaries are discounted grocery shopping facilities located on bases. By law, the shop is required to deliver savings to shoppers, based on prices negotiated with manufacturers. Baseline savings are typically expected to be just shy of 24 percent.

Shoppers are subject to a 5 percent surcharge but no state and local food-related taxes. The surcharge is used for store upkeep and construction.

In addition to commissaries, newly eligible military personnel will also have access to military service exchanges, golf courses, bowling centers, recreational lodging, RV campgrounds, movie theaters and other facilities.

According to the Department of Defense, eligibility is limited because it does not have the infrastructure to handle an influx of more than 15 million additional veterans to the facilities.

Not only did the new year bring new benefits for some veterans, it also brought higher pay for service members.

Continue on to Fox Business News to read the complete article.

Healing at 40-feet Below

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Scuba diver sees statue of himself at a underwater memorial

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service

As soon as Shawn Campbell saw his name on a plaque next to a statue sunken 40 feet to the seafloor, the memories of the soldiers he had once served with flooded his mind.

The life-size statue, one of a dozen concrete figures that make up the nation’s only underwater veterans memorial, depicts a soldier wearing combat gear from the Iraq War—a war Campbell fought in three separate times.

“It really took my breath away,” said the former staff sergeant, who is now a master diver at a Florida dive shop. “It was a huge honor.”

His company made a donation to place his name at the base of the statue before the figures were recently installed, about 10 miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida.

The memorial, called Circle of Heroes, honors the entire military with statues portraying a variety of service members in what organizers hope will serve as a therapeutic dive for veterans, and a unique diving experience for all.

Plans call for an additional 12 statues to be added to the memorial next year.

For Campbell, who served about a decade in the Army as a combat medic, he said the memorial helped him remember those who never returned home and those who struggled once they did.

“I had a lot of friends who didn’t make it back,” he said a week after the memorial officially opened. “And even more who did make it back, but then couldn’t win the battle with themselves after the war.”

One such friend was Staff Sgt. Victor Cota. He and Campbell had been in the same 4th Infantry Division unit that provided security for senior leaders traveling in and around Baghdad.

On May 14, 2008, Cota’s vehicle hit a roadside bomb, killing the 33-year-old Tucson, Arizona, native.

“He was a really good friend of mine,” Campbell said. “We lost him during [my] second deployment.”

In 2013, Campbell left the Army to finish his associate’s degree and then worked as a commercial deep-sea diver. He now teaches courses at a dive shop in the Tampa area where he grew up.

“I was like, well, if I survived the war, I’m going to start doing everything I want to do now,” he said.

Campbell said scuba diving is a relaxing activity that calms his post-traumatic stress and gives him time to analyze his thoughts in peace.

“It helps me deal with things,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to have a bad day when you’re underwater and you get to reflect upon yourself.”

Former Staff Sgt. Jace Badia, who is also a diving instructor, agrees, saying the sport gives him more freedom of movement.

Badia, an infantryman who lost his left leg above the knee to a roadside bomb in Iraq, said he and others who have amputated limbs can move however they like while floating below the surface.

He even knows a blind veteran who enjoys scuba diving.

“If you don’t have the ability to run because of prosthetics, you can get in the water with a tank and you can swim as fast as you want,” he said. “Nothing is stopping you.”

Badia, who manned a boat so other wounded veterans could dive around the memorial last week, said he is looking forward to seeing it soon in an upcoming dive.

“I can’t believe that they finally made an underwater memorial for [service members],” he said. “That’s amazing—I never even thought it was possible.”

While memorials are typically above ground, this one allows visitors to connect on a deeper level. There is even a nonprofit that specifically takes wounded veterans to the site as an alternative form of therapy.

“The one thing about scuba diving is when you’re down there, even if you’re in a group, you’re still by yourself,” Campbell said. “You have no choice but to reflect on what you’re looking at.

“It’s more of a serene experience that you never get an opportunity to experience above the water.”

Source: army.mil

Paws of War Helps American Soldiers Bring Home Dogs from the Middle East

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U.S. Soldier is holding up his rescue dog for a picture

Being deployed to Afghanistan can be dangerous and stressful for our service members. Some of these service members rescue stray dogs and befriend them. When it’s time to head back to the United States, the last thing they can think of is leaving the dog behind to fend for itself. One soldier, Sgt. Dominick, is desperate to bring his dog, Jonsey, back home with him.

“After these dogs are rescued, they develop a special bond with our service members. These dogs will not leave their side and become very attached and loyal,” explains Dori Scofield co-founder of Paws of War. “There’s no way they can leave them, so we do everything we can to help them bring the dog home with them. We need all the support we can get from the public in order to be successful with these efforts.”

Army Sgt. Dominick, who is stationed in a remote area of Afghanistan, first spotted Jonsey when the starving puppy was eating burnt trash outside of his camp. He took the puppy in, fed him, and the whole unit fell in love with him, which brought them joy. He named him Jonsey, and the dog grew to feel like a part of his family. Now that he will be heading back to the United States, he can’t bear to leave him behind.

Stray dogs in Afghanistan have a very rough life and often times are subjected to cruelty. Desperate to bring him back home with him to live out his life and be a part of his larger family, he turned to Paws of War for assistance. The organization has a program in place that helps service members bring their dog home after being deployed to the Middle East. While they are always quick to help do what they can, they can’t do it alone.

In order for Paws of War to be successful at bringing a dog back to America from Afghanistan, they work with Nowzad, the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan, and get financial support from public donations. There’s a lot that goes into bringing a dog back to the U.S., including quarantine, all of which comes at a high cost.

If you would like to help, please donate here:pawsofwar.org/donate. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs please visit pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to active, retired, and disabled military members. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: pawsofwar.org.

Sailor takes over duties as Chief of the Boat aboard U.S. Navy submarine

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Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II pins his replacement abaord Navy ship

SANTA RITA, Guam – Master Chief Sonar Technician (Submarine) Michael Wangen II, pins Senior Chief Yeoman (Submarine) Matthew Zwan, right, from Garden Grove, Calif., as his relief as the Chief of the Boat aboard the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) on the pier following a deployment.

Topeka is one of four forward-deployed submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen out of Apra Harbor, Guam.

Source: Navy Outreach

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey J. Hockenberger)