The Army Needs Entrepreneurs

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army woman sitting at desk in a wheelchair smiling in to camera

The military needs innovative ideas from small businesses and entrepreneurs now more than ever, according to Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.

McCarthy spoke in March at Muster DC, an event in the nation’s capital for military veterans aspiring to be entrepreneurs. “If you look at the history of the Department of Defense, we were at our best when entrepreneurs were doing business with us,” he said.

As an example, he cited that the first jeeps for World War II were actually designed and built by a small motor company called American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvania. Later, the
design was shared with Willys-Overland and Ford to produce the jeeps on a larger scale.

DOD was at its best when small businesses brought their ideas and “partnered with big corporations to scale out those ideas,” McCarthy said. “We got away from that for the last several decades,” he said, adding the Army’s practice has been to put out 1,000-page requests for proposals, or RFPs, specifying the exact size and weight of each component of a system.

Businesses maybe had a better solution, he said, but they would never share it, because that’s not what they were incentivized to do. That culture needs to change, McCarthy said, and that’s one reason the Army Futures Command was organized. It’s why Soldiers have been placed alongside tech innovators at an “accelerator hub” in Austin, Texas.

The purpose of Futures Command is to drive innovation, he said, “so that we can do business
faster. So small businesses don’t get their cash flow crushed waiting years for us to make a decision.” Out of more than 800 programs that the Army oversees, eight have been granted a special “transactional authority” to do business differently, he said.

The Futures Command has eight crossfunctional teams: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, Army network, air and missile defense, Soldier lethality, synthetic training environment; and assured positioning, navigation and timing.

The Army needs a “quick win” in these eight programs, McCarthy said, to change the acquisition culture and to keep ahead of nearpeer adversaries. The U.S. military has enjoyed a vast technological advantage for years, he said, but competitors are quickly catching up.

McCarthy said he’d like to see Soldiers in accelerator hubs across the country so entrepreneurs will have easy access to pitch their ideas.

Entrepreneurs who are military veterans have an advantage, he said, because they are resilient and can deal with stress. They know how to organize and plan. When getting ready to leave the Army, where he served as a Ranger, McCarthy said at his first interview in Manhattan, he was asked what he knew about finance.

“I said, ‘Nothing. But I know how to plan and I know how to organize and there would be nothing you can put me through that I hadn’t been through already in the form of stress and pressure,’” he said. After the interviewer stopped laughing, McCarthy said he took a chance and hired him.

The company even held the job open for a year, because soon afterward, the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred, and McCarthy agreed to stay in the Army for a deployment before going to work in New York.

Veterans are not afraid to engage, he said, and have commitment. “Nobody wants to follow a leader that hedges,” he said. “They want somebody that’s playing ‘double-in’ every day.”

Veterans have some of the key attributes business leaders need to have, he said, “especially if they’re going to start their own business.”

Other talents the Army needs most right now include systems engineering and software coding, McCarthy said. Weapons systems are sophisticated and have millions of lines of coding, he said. Most failures of weapons systems in the past came from not having the right systems architecture, he said, which resulted in weapons not being able to communicate with other platforms.

Source: army.mil

Your Guide to Launching a Civilian Career

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Soldier and civilian shaking hands on blurred background

Five steps to identifying your post-military career goals

By Jeff McMillan, Chief Analytics and Data Officer, Morgan Stanley

Over 25 years ago, I left the U.S. Army to pursue a civilian career. I loved serving my country, but it was time to do something different.
The military builds valuable skills, but often does not prepare veterans for the process of finding a job after leaving the service. Most transitioning veterans struggle with uncertainty over how to launch a new career, simply because no one has taught them the “do’s and don’ts” of identifying job opportunities, networking, interviewing, etc.

Based on my own experience and my time spent counseling hundreds of veterans in the years since, the following steps can help veterans determine what career direction to pursue and how to position themselves to employers as qualified candidates.

  1. Examine your skills and interests

Most individuals I speak to have little or no clue what they want to do post-military. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about being unsure, because it takes time and exploration to figure out what kinds of jobs might be a good fit for your interests and expertise. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • List the skills that set you apart from other candidates (make sure to use language that non-military people can understand). For example: “I know how to manage and motivate people.”
  • Next, describe the kind of work that you enjoy (or don’t). For example: “I get bored by routine work and like to tackle new issues/problems.”

It may take some time to gather and articulate these skills and interests. Your objective is to outline who you are and what you like. You will use this information as a point of reference for evaluating potential career opportunities.

  1. Research relevant opportunities

Once you have a sense of your skills and interests, use that knowledge to determine which roles suit you best. The best way to do this is by talking to a lot of people. Ask what they do, what they like and don’t like about their jobs, and what skills are necessary for success. After every conversation, ask yourself if the role you discussed is aligned with your skills and interests. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for a “perfect” job, but rather deepening your understanding of various career possibilities. Other useful resources include:

  • Job descriptions
  • Companies’ websites and mission statements
  • Relevant trade publications
  • Career fairs
  1. Determine whether you need further education

One of the first questions people ask when transitioning to non-military jobs is “Should I go back to school?”

The answer depends on what kind of career you decide to pursue. Some jobs require an advanced degree; for others, you’ll need a specialized certification. As you research opportunities, ask people about their educational backgrounds. Keep in mind that some (but not all) employers favor candidates who attended competitive or prestigious institutions. If you do go back to school, make an effort to excel—employers will look at your GPA.

  1. Develop a crisp and clear message

Many individuals leaving the military hesitate to self-promote, because they’ve been trained to put aside their egos for the benefit of the broader mission. But in the civilian world, if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. As a job seeker, you need a simple, direct set of talking points that tells people what you want to do and why you’re a fit for the role in three minutes or less:

  • One minute on your background and differentiated skills
  • One minute on the opportunity you’re seeking
  • One minute on why you would be a great fit for the role

As you draft and refine your “elevator pitch,” remember to use language that non-military personnel can understand, and to connect your skills and interests to the role you are seeking in a way that demonstrates you understand the responsibilities the job entails.

  1. Find a mentor

A mentor is a trusted advisor who can help you learn about your field of choice, provide honest feedback and advice, make networking introductions, and generally serve as a sounding board during your job search. You can find a mentor among your existing connections, or look into American Corporate Partners, which offers free one-year mentorship programs for transitioning veterans. Be upfront with your mentor about how much time you’d like them to commit (such as a 30-minute meeting or phone call once a month), and prepare ahead of time to make your sessions as productive as possible.

Embarking on a new career after serving in the military can seem daunting or intimidating to even the most decorated veterans. Breaking the process down into manageable steps, laying a solid foundation based on your interests and skills, and leaning on others for guidance and support can help set you up for success.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.

Military Leaders Make Great Accountants

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military veteran sitting at desk in civilian clothes giving a thumbs up

 And why being an accountant is ‘cooler’ than you think

It’s true. And here’s why: the skills required to be an exceptional leader in the military—problem solving, strategy, planning, teamwork, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic—are the same skills required to be a successful accountant. In fact, major corporations and public accounting firms alike look for these “soft skills” first when they build out their teams.

Among these skills, leadership may be the most important. Companies place a high value on incoming employees who are boardroom-ready and who possess the maturity to work in client-facing situations. They often find these leadership attributes in those transitioning out of the military.

Of course, accounting knowledge and skills are required, too. But, with an undergraduate degree—any undergraduate degree—these skills can be gained in as little as one year. In fact, some graduate schools have designed their Master of Accounting degrees to cater specifically to those with little or no accounting experience. And, to make things more convenient for those already working, or serving, some programs are now fully online, allowing students to log in from anywhere in the world.

Accounting is challenging, but it’s also straightforward. Less math than you might think; it’s more about organization and documentation. Less rigid than you might think; there’s actually a good deal of judgement and flexibility. And, because they regularly work on teams and with clients, accountants are less “back-office number cruncher,” more “proactive communicator.”

But, why accounting? Hmmm…why not? Accounting is very popular career choice. Accountants make strong starting salaries and see rapid salary progressions—even those just entering the workforce top six figures after just five years. Accountants are also in serious demand, both in public accounting firms and on corporate finance teams.

And, accounting is cooler, and way more important, than you think. Accountants help businesses make critical fiscal decisions that can shape investor confidence. Auditors verify transactions, protecting companies from allegations of fraud and criminal misstatement. Tax strategists uncover opportunities for significant savings. At more senior levels, those with an accounting background often fill key seats in the C-suite: CEO, CFO, or VP of Finance.

For those in the military planning to transition into the private sector, or for those continuing to build a career within the military, a Master of Accounting degree is a key step toward lucrative accounting and finance positions. The degree also prepares students, and provides the necessary education credits, to sit for the CPA exam, the key professional credential within the accounting field.

As noted above, some schools offer online programs that allow students to earn the degree from anywhere in the world while continuing to work or travel. The best programs leverage webcam-connected classrooms to bring students together for live, interactive discussions and learning management systems that deliver course lectures via recorded video.

The online Master of Accounting (MAC) degree from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School can give your career the boost it needs.

Source: UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Standard Operating Procedures for the Military Transition Process

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Veteran looking at iPad

By Brian Niswander

For the past decade, I’ve conducted interviews and collected data from thousands of veterans and spouses about their transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce.

After countless hours analyzing survey data and comments, I’m convinced that a successful transition embodies five key elements.

After making this discovery, I started thinking about my time in uniform and the importance of adhering to Standard Operating Procedures.

I couldn’t help but remember how we had procedures and checklists for important mission activities, and I think we owe the same level of rigor to veterans as they consider their future transition.

Based upon extensive research conducted by the team at Military-Transition.org, I developed a 5-step process to reduce confusion and increase the chances for success during the transition process:

#1 – Start Preparing Early

The data is clear and the majority of veterans surveyed (84%) indicate that starting early is critical to a successful transition. Unfortunately, this is seldom as easy as it sounds. Today’s ops-tempo requires military members to focus on the mission for the majority of their day. While finding time for things outside of the mission and family can be challenging, the advice from veterans is simple—you must find a way. There’s nothing unpatriotic about thinking and planning for what follows your military service. I tell serve members to start considering what’s next at least 24 months ahead of their transition. Starting this far ahead will pay dividends and will enable you to begin focusing on those transition elements which require time and effort to accomplish.

#2 – Have a Transition Plan

Your initial plan doesn’t have to be complex, but should include goals, enabling activities, and timelines. These can change as you progress, but you need to have a starting point. Your first goal might be to research and learn more about industries, organizations or positions that align with your existing skills. Maybe you’d like to do something completely different in the civilian workforce and need to begin exploring new and different opportunities which are outside your comfort zone. Activities may include reading books, journals, blogs and newsletters about these fields. Those considering an educational program might explore what programs are available and what career opportunities result from attaining that degree, certification, or license. In all cases, start connecting with those who transitioned before you, and others who can assist and might become mentors along the way.

#3 – Build Your Network

Of all the advice I’ve gathered over the past decade, this is the most recommended element of a successful transition. You can utilize social media (LinkedIn) and identify individuals to connect with, organizations of interest, and potential opportunities to learn about. You should also become active in community groups and build contacts through face-to-face networking. Engage with other military members, veterans, and civilians to understand their career experiences, education, and training programs. Successful networking not only helps you learn about post-military life, but it will also help you learn a new language which I call “the language of civilians.” Trust me, you need to speak their language—this is critical for the next element of a successful transition.

#4 – Learn to Translate your Skills

Of all the elements within the transition process, this activity will require the most effort. Translating your skills results in a strong resume, good interviewing skills, and the ability to demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Practice is essential to success and you must consistently demonstrate how your skills add value when networking. Ask for feedback and make continual improvements. This will require time to accomplish, but it’s worth the investment.

#5 – Be Patient

Almost half of the veterans surveyed (48%) claim their transition was ‘more difficult than expected’ and more than half (59%) say it ‘required more time than expected’. Take the time, do the research, build your network, learn how to translate your skills, and be patient along the way. You didn’t become a soldier, sailor, airperson, marine or coast guard person overnight, so don’t expect the transition to be quick. Remember that patience and persistence are key throughout the transition process.

Brian Niswander is the Founder of Military-Transition.org, an organization that uses data analytics and visualizations to assist military members with their transition into the civilian workforce. He started Military-Transition.org after identifying a need for data-driven-solutions which inform and guide veteran decision making during the reintegration process. Brian was an Air Force intelligence officer and now provides ‘transition intelligence’ to educate military families. His work has been featured in numerous publications along with radio and podcast interviews. His background includes analytic and leadership positions within the consumer goods industry along with management, strategic planning and marketing in public and private organizations. Brian has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in Behavioral Science/Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Sailor Assigned to USS John F. Kennedy Participates in Christening Ceremony

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Master-at-Arms 1st Class Kristi Dennis in uniform

An Edmond, Oklahoma, native assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) will participate in the christening of the U.S. Navy’s second Ford-class aircraft carrier during a ceremony in Newport News, Dec. 7.

The Navy will christen its newest aircraft carrier on Saturday, Dec 7, 2019, during a ceremony at the Huntington-Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) shipyard in Newport News.

Master-at-Arms 1st Class Kristi Dennis, who is assigned to PCU John F. Kennedy, discussed the pride in serving on board the second Ford-class aircraft carrier.

“It is a great honor and humbling experience to not only create new traditions with PCU JFK but also know I am a part of carrying on the traditions of the Navy for many generations,” said Dennis.

On Nov. 6, nearly a month earlier, the crew of PCU John F. Kennedy officially revealed the carrier’s seal. The seal is crafted to integrate elements that honor President John. F. Kennedy, his service to the Navy, and his vision for space exploration.

It features 35 stars located around the outer ring that represent John F. Kennedy as our nation’s 35th president. The 35th star is positioned after his middle initial and the two gold stars placed between CVN and the number 79 symbolize the fact that this is the second aircraft carrier bearing his name and legacy.

The Roman numeral “CIX” or 109, is a tribute to President Kennedy’s heroic naval service as commander of Patrol Boat 109 in the South Pacific. Additionally, the moon backdrop represents President Kennedy’s instrumental role in the nation’s space program.

“John F. Kennedy displayed extraordinary courage, both in combat as a naval officer, and as president of the United States,” said Capt. Todd Marzano, the ship’s first Commanding Officer. “The seal design and ship’s motto are a very powerful and fitting way to honor President Kennedy’s legacy.”

Anchoring these and other elements on the seal is the ship’s motto – Serve with Courage. Dennis discussed what Serving with Courage means to her.

“Courage is the foundation of integrity. It defines how you carry yourself in choosing to do what is right even when it is not the popular choice,” said Dennis.

Other recent milestones PCU John F. Kennedy have completed include the ship’s dry dock was flooded on Oct. 29, officially launching the aircraft carrier approximately three months early to the original schedule. The ship’s keel was laid on Aug. 22, 2015, and placement of the 588-metric ton island superstructure was completed on May 29, 2019.

Source: Navy Outreach

Power Couple: Soldier Recruits Wife to Join Army

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U.S. Military wife and husband in uniform standing side by side with arms folded

By Alexandra Shea, IMCOM

Staff Sgt. Joshua Mitchell is used to talking with various people about military careers and the benefits that are offered to those who choose to wear the uniform and serve their country as a Soldier. As a recruiter in the Malden, Massachusetts, area, he is constantly talking to strangers, even off-duty, according to his wife, Eunjee.

“The first year after I moved to America, I knew I needed a car,” Eunjee said. “We went to the car dealership, and he recruited the car dealer.”

The couple met in Korea while Staff Sgt. Mitchell was stationed there. They originally met online and met face-to-face for the first time on New Year’s Day. They married shortly after, and Eunjee Mitchell immigrated to the United States, where her husband became a recruiter. She often would hear the conversations he had about joining the military. After two years of listening to Staff Sgt. Mitchell, she decided enlisting was the right choice for her.

“He was interviewing other recruiters, and one was Korean like me. She told me how the Army helps her a lot to speak (better) English and get her involved in the community,” said Eunjee. “The conversation with her gave me the thought that I could try.”

She enlisted as a 92A – Automated Logistical Specialist in the Army Reserves.

“I knew hanging around with me she would be interested in the Army, but I didn’t think she would (join),” said Staff Sgt. Mitchell. “I definitely wrote her contract.”

After 10 weeks of South Carolina’s famously hot summer weather, Eunjee Mitchell walked across Fort Jackson’s Hilton Field with the rest of her company as they graduated Basic Combat Training. With three bachelor’s degrees, she graduated with the rank of specialist.

While she knew her husband would be attending her ceremony, Staff Sgt. Mitchell was able to arrive to the installation early and surprise his wife during the Family Day dress rehearsal.

“While I was waiting behind the trees, I was trying to stay calm. I was very emotional,” said Spc. Mitchell.

She instantly recognized her husband on the parade field and knew “my recruiter is here.”

“I saw him, and he was in uniform, so I recognized him because he’s so tall,” she said.

Standing at six-feet, five-inches, Staff Sgt. Mitchell is not easily missed. Since immigrating to a new country and culture, Spc. Mitchell has never been separated from her husband, until attending Basic Combat Training.

“I didn’t see her until she was walking out,” said Staff Sgt. Mitchell. “She’s a tough little lady. I’m crazy proud of her.”

The couple were allowed to speak for a short time before Spc. Mitchell had to return to her daily duties. The following day, they were reunited for Family Day, where they were able to spend an entire day together visiting various parts of the installation and get lunch together.

After the graduation ceremony, Spc. Mitchell traveled back to her home state with her husband. Once there, Spc. Mitchell will rejoin her Reserve unit and attend Advanced Individual Training in the coming months.

When asked what her future might look like now that BCT is complete, Spc. Mitchell said she is excited to begin her new career and possibly a family. She also explained how her experience on Fort Jackson has helped her to understand her husband and brings them closer as a couple.

“The first year we were married I didn’t understand the little things like why he didn’t want to take his boots off in the house,” said Spc. Mitchell. “I understand him more now.”

Source: army.mil

What Qualifies Someone as a Veteran?

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woman veteran holding child who has a U.S. Flag in his hand

By Keith King

Here are just a few examples of the statements we hear when we ask someone to list their qualifications needed to be recognized as a veteran (and the true answer):

  • Anyone with an honorable discharge? NO
  • Must have been overseas?            NO
  • Must have served during a period of war? NO
  • National Guard and Reserve members? Maybe, under specific conditions.
  • Anyone who has a DD-214 form? NO
  • If they served, they are a Veteran? NO

The key is understanding the person’s service record: Did he or she serve in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge or medal was authorized. Was he or she awarded the campaign badge or medal? Just serving during the time period does not qualify most reservists or guardsmen or women.

To devise a way to recognize our troops serving in a “war,” the Department of Defense (DoD) created designated periods of conflict that if you serve in an area of hostility and are awarded a campaign medal, you are considered a veteran. We use, “180 days of active duty not counting training or 1 day in a combat zone,” as our rule of thumb to determine if a person is a veteran or not. This is a much higher standard than what the Veteran Affairs (VA) uses for benefit awards.

To be a veteran, a service member must have:

—        180 days of consecutive active duty (not counting training)

—        Or one day in a combat zone: served on Active Duty during a period of war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized.

—        Served in the National Guard or Reserve for 20 years and retired under honorable conditions. (passed 2016)

The form no one tells you about is, in many cases, more important than the one everyone thinks they know (DD214). The DD 256 and 257 are issued when the person has not met the active duty requirements to be considered a veteran by the DoD. But having a DD214 form doesn’t automatically mean you are a veteran! What is truly bothersome is that people who have served but don’t qualify as a veteran can request a DD214. To the untrained eye, this person has a DD214 and in most cases their character of service is honorable, so people think that person is a veteran. But they’re not!

In a recent report, the DoD admitted that data is collected from 30 different sources to “build” a DD-214. The truth about a DD214: it takes a highly trained person who understands veteran laws and exactly what the information is showing them to determine if that person meets the standards to be called a veteran.

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) uses: Title 38 U.S. Code § 4211 as our standard to determine the definition of a veteran. The applicant must have received an Honorable Discharge (HD) or Discharge Under Honorable Conditions (UHC).

The NVBDC does not accept DD214’s from the applicant. Why? One word: Photoshop. The most downloaded Federal form is the blank DD-214. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the amount of fraud in the Federal purchasing programs, especially the VA, is estimated at over $500 million per year per government estimates.

Keith King is the founder and CEO of the NVBDC as well as a 40-year veteran advocate with heavy legislative experience and a strong record of success in writing, lobbying for, and getting passage of laws to benefit all veterans. He is an expert in veteran law and VA claims, and the difference between them.

Your Guide to Launching a Civilian Career

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man wearing a military uniform on left and a suit on the right

By Jeff McMillan, Chief Analytics and Data Officer, Morgan Stanley

Over 25 years ago, I left the U.S. Army to pursue a civilian career. I loved serving my country, but it was time to do something different. The military builds valuable skills, but often does not prepare veterans for the process of finding a job after leaving the service. Most transitioning veterans struggle with uncertainty over how to launch a new career, simply because no one has taught them the “do’s and don’ts” of identifying job opportunities, networking, interviewing, etc.

Based on my own experience and my time spent counseling hundreds of veterans in the years since, the following steps can help veterans determine what career direction to pursue and how to position themselves to employers as qualified candidates.

 

  1. Examine your skills and interests

Most individuals I speak to have little or no clue what they want to do post-military. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about being unsure, because it takes time and exploration to figure out what kinds of jobs might be a good fit for your interests and expertise. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • List the skills that set you apart from other candidates (make sure to use language that non-military people can understand). For example: “I know how to manage and motivate people.”
  • Next, describe the kind of work that you enjoy (or don’t). For example: “I get bored by routine work and like to tackle new issues/problems.”

It may take some time to gather and articulate these skills and interests. Your objective is to outline who you are and what you like. You will use this information as a point of reference for evaluating potential career opportunities.

  1. Research relevant opportunities

Once you have a sense of your skills and interests, use that knowledge to determine which roles suit you best. The best way to do this is by talking to a lot of people. Ask what they do, what they like and don’t like about their jobs, and what skills are necessary for success. After every conversation, ask yourself if the role you discussed is aligned with your skills and interests. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for a “perfect” job, but rather deepening your understanding of various career possibilities. Other useful resources include:

  • Job descriptions
  • Companies’ websites and mission statements
  • Relevant trade publications
  • Career fairs
  1. Determine whether you need further education

One of the first questions people ask when transitioning to non-military jobs is “Should I go back to school?”

The answer depends on what kind of career you decide to pursue. Some jobs require an advanced degree; for others, you’ll need a specialized certification. As you research opportunities, ask people about their educational backgrounds. Keep in mind that some (but not all) employers favor candidates who attended competitive or prestigious institutions. If you do go back to school, make an effort to excel—employers will look at your GPA.

  1. Develop a crisp and clear message

Many individuals leaving the military hesitate to self-promote, because they’ve been trained to put aside their egos for the benefit of the broader mission. But in the civilian world, if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. As a job seeker, you need a simple, direct set of talking points that tells people what you want to do and why you’re a fit for the role in three minutes or less:

  • One minute on your background and differentiated skills
  • One minute on the opportunity you’re seeking
  • One minute on why you would be a great fit for the role

As you draft and refine your “elevator pitch,” remember to use language that non-military personnel can understand, and to connect your skills and interests to the role you are seeking in a way that demonstrates you understand the responsibilities the job entails.

  1. Find a mentor

A mentor is a trusted advisor who can help you learn about your field of choice, provide honest feedback and advice, make networking introductions, and generally serve as a sounding board during your job search. You can find a mentor among your existing connections, or look into American Corporate Partners, which offers free one-year mentorship programs for transitioning veterans. Be upfront with your mentor about how much time you’d like them to commit (such as a 30-minute meeting or phone call once a month), and prepare ahead of time to make your sessions as productive as possible.

Embarking on a new career after serving in the military can seem daunting or intimidating to even the most decorated veterans. Breaking the process down into manageable steps, laying a solid foundation based on your interests and skills, and leaning on others for guidance and support can help set you up for success.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.

The Punniest Female on Instagram

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military spouse dubbed punniest on Instagram is pictured with the Puns in the background

Military spouse Angelica Hanley is behind the pun-based stationery brand ACouplePuns.

Angelica Hanley is a self-professed entrePUNeur, so when she found herself making up puns to describe the things she saw throughout the day, she decided to turn her love of puns into a shareable art form.

Thus, ACouplePuns was born and is now a rapidly growing online and wholesale greeting card shop connecting people through punny sentiments.

A card for every occasion imaginable, ACouplePuns delivers sweet messages accompanied by disarmingly darling drawings on superb card stock that is scored, folded and packaged by hand.

Her designs are inspired by travel, pop culture, and current trending topics.

She’s a military spouse who used a lifestyle of frequent moves to create a business she could take with her wherever she and her husband end up.

Angelica hold up some of her punniest cards
Via Instagram @ACouplePuns

Seeking a means to connect with people after a cross country move a couple years ago, Angelica launched ACouplePuns on Etsy with ten greeting card designs.

After just two years she has over 100 cards, which have landed on store shelves all over the country.

She has created custom cards for many popular female-founded brands such as Kendra Scott and also coordinated giveaways on Instagram.

Angelica enjoys sharing laughter through her cards and is building a community of fellow pun lovers she refers to on Instagram as “Punny People.”

She encourages you to share the puns you see with her at ACouplePuns to help inspire her latest creations!

Source: ACouplePuns, Instagram @ACouplePuns

Five Military Veterans Win Free Dream Vacations Travel Agency Franchise

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2019 Operation Vetrepreneur Winners pose together with U.S. Flags in the background

As part of a weeklong Veteran’s Day celebration, the number one franchise for veterans Dream Vacations awarded five military heroes with free travel franchises as part of its award-winning 8th annual contest “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General.”

Currently nearly 35 percent of franchise owners within Dream Vacations are military veterans and in the past eight years, the travel agency franchise has awarded 42 free franchises valued at more than $533,400 to deserving military veterans.

(Pictured left to right) Army Veteran Don Shirley, Army Veteran Michael Foster, Marine Corps Veteran David Alexander, Air Force Veteran Jimmy Weeks and Navy Veteran Tawnya Caldwell. Photo Credit:  TheLXA.com

“Military veterans have made so many sacrifices so we can be the land of the free, making the American Dream a possibility, and Operation Vetrepreneur is just one way we are able to give back to these heroes,” said Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager of Dream Vacations. “Every year our winners raise the bar in their business plans and I am excited for Dream Vacations to join them on this journey to successful business ownership.”

The annual “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” contest was open to former members of any of the five branches of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) who are retired, off active duty and/or honorably discharged prior to the contest start date this past May. Candidates participated in a rigorous three-part application process which included creating a business plan, video essay and phone interviews. More than 2,400 people have applied for franchise ownership through Operation Vetrepreneur since 2012. This year’s winners are Marine Corps Veteran David Alexander of West Orange, N.J.; Navy Veteran Tawnya Caldwell of Hermitage, Tenn.; Army Veteran Michael Foster of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Army Veteran Don Shirley of Cedar Park, Texas; and Air Force Veteran Jimmy Weeks of Costa Mesa, Calif.

“I’m proud of my service in the United States Marine Corp Infantry. It taught me discipline, determination, how to work hard and strive for perfection — all traits that I’ll apply to running a travel franchise,” said Vetrepreneur winner Alexander. “I’ve always had a passion for traveling and meeting new people. I love experiencing new adventures and learning about different cultures. I have a natural curiosity that traveling always seems to satisfy.”

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 — $2,000 travel training credit; receive up to $7,000 back based on initial fee through the Earn Back promotion; waived administrative fees valued at $1,350; or a Microsoft® Surface Pro tablet valued at $1,000. In addition to having access to the Command Center, an internal portal with veteran-specific training and veteran-themed marketing assets, all veterans and Gold Star families receive a waived training fee for a business partner 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, travel discounts for military customers and access to veteran networking groups.

As the only travel franchise to receive a 5 STAR ranking from VetFran, Dream Vacations proudly supports military veterans and is consistently recognized by leading industry publications as a veteran-friendly franchise. It was ranked the #1 franchise for veterans by Entrepreneur magazine in 2019, and other recent number one rankings include Military Times and Forbes. Additional recognitions include inclusion on G.I. Jobs annual “Hot Franchises for Veterans,” US Veterans magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Companies”, USA Today’s “50 Top Franchises for Military Veterans” and recognition by MSC Cruises in its Seaside Salute Award. The Operation Vetrepreneur program won gold from the Travel Weekly Magellan Awards and the IFA Franchising Gives Back Awards.

Dream Vacations is committed to being “Rich in Diversity” and empowers all owners, franchisees and employees to reach their highest potential by leveraging their broad range of talent, experiences, personalities, viewpoints and ideas to generate business growth.

Military veterans who are passionate about travel with an entrepreneurial spirit who would like to be part of a travel agency network that cares more about its agents, travelers and military veterans, should visit www.DreamVacationsFranchise.com or call 888-249-8235 to learn about franchising with Dream Vacations.

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.

Interview Like a Pro

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hiring manager shaking hands with a newly hired veteran

Behavioral and situational interview styles are the most effective when interviewing both veterans and spouses. That’s because veterans are accustomed to concise and polite conversation.

They are not accustomed to boasting about their accomplishments, scope of authority or level of responsibility, as they have been operating in a team environment. Gaps in a spouse’s resume or volunteer experience may overshadow the great skills and experience they have gained over their professional career. In both cases, you as the interviewer have to probe for their accomplishments and for detail revealing their adaptability and how their experience can contribute to your company.

Ask prospective employees if they’re willing to be coached by an existing veteran employee. For example, a candidate may say he drove a truck. What he may not be saying is that he supervised several dozen soldiers transporting millions of dollars of inventory. Or a military spouse may say she volunteered as a Bible study leader. What she may not be saying is that she coordinated spiritual retreats for a few hundred military spouses, organized food deliveries for families in need, and went through training to spot domestic violence on post, all while her husband was deployed three times to a war zone. If you have an employee resource group devoted to veterans, ask members to attend hiring fairs and to be available to coach potential interviewees on their resumes and job interviewing skills before the interview process begins. And ask prospective employees if they’re willing to be coached by an existing veteran employee.

These veteran employee resource groups can even be tapped to participate in mock interviews with HR recruiters, join the in-person interview with the veteran or spouse job candidate to help break the ice, or provide the candidate a tour of the workplace.

Also, train your hiring managers on these interviewing techniques, suggested by Sherrill A. Curtis, principal and creative director for HR consulting firm Curtis Consulting Group LLC, in a report for the Society for Human Resource Management:

Know what they bring. Be familiar with the military occupational skills (MOS) that correlate with the job.

Show gratitude. At the start of the interview, thank military talent applicants for their service or the spouse for their service and sacrifice as well.

Explain the job. Clearly describe the job role and its responsibilities, defining expectations up front and avoiding generalizations.

Make them comfortable. Draw out applicants to discover their “thread of excellence.”

Get them talking. Avoid closed-ended questions (those that elicit a “yes” or “no” response) by posing probing questions about an individual’s service experience.

Translating Military Experience

Lend them your ears. Focus on active listening for skill sets, and correlate them with job functions within your organization.

Stay connected. Keep the candidate engaged in the process by following up and delivering on what you promise (for example, with post-interview phone calls about the status of their application, next steps, etc.). This is very important to them and should not be overlooked.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers these tips:

Set an easygoing tone. The concept of “professional presentation” is often different for veterans than for civilians. Employers should understand that some might present themselves with a high level of discipline and formality (for example, using “sir” or “ma’am”). It’s OK to let candidates know that they can be more relaxed and respond in a casual manner. Doing so may help foster a more comfortable and insightful conversation.

Ask if they can do the job. Whether or not you’re interviewing someone who might have a disability, it’s a good practice to ask all candidates about whether they think they could perform the job—one idea of raising the issue is by asking: “Have you read the job description? Can you, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job?” This is not the same as asking candidates to disclose any disability; it merely ensures they can perform the necessary functions of the position.

Questions relevant to experience or training in the military, or to determine eligibility for any veteran’s preference required by law, are acceptable.

Dig for detail. When trying to delve deeper into their experience and how it might translate to your business, consider phrasing questions that will ensure that the candidate provide more detail about their responsibilities. For example: “Tell me about the type of training and education you received in the military.” Or: “Were you involved in day-to-day management of personnel and/or supplies?” “How many people did you supervise?”

Sample Interview Questions

There are rules on what you can and can’t ask veterans about during an interview.

Off limits:

  • What kind of discharge did you get from the military?
  • When will you get deployed again?
  • Have you ever killed anyone?
  • Were you ever injured in combat?
  • Will you have to miss much work for your military service?

Instead, ask:

  • Will you be able to perform the duties in the job description with reasonable accommodation?
  • What did you do in the military?
  • Which of your military experiences will translate to this job?

Source: vetemployerroadmap.org