Looking for a STEM Job? Head to These States

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Milken Institute’s 2018 State Technology and Science Index, a biennial assessment of states’ capabilities and competitiveness in a tech-focused economy, ranked the top ten states to pursue a STEM career.

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7. Delaware
  8. Minnesota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Oregon

“The success stories of states profiled in this year’s index reflect sustained efforts to not only build but to maintain their ecosystem,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics. “Making the changes that are necessary to perform well on the State Technology and Science Index can contribute to stronger long-term economic performance.”

Massachusetts benefitted from the presence of major research universities, the availability of venture capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and a tech-oriented workforce, according to the report. The state was first in three of the index’s five composite indexes and finished third in another. Massachusetts continues to strengthen its position in tech and science by increasing public funding of neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation, and startup development.

Utah’s move to fifth was driven by tech-sector employment growth – the fastest in the nation – averaging 4.3 percent annually. The state also had the most university graduates with degrees in science and engineering – 15.4 per 1,000 students. Utah stood out for the success of its universities in spinning research into commercial ventures.

Delaware rose to seventh from tenth, strengthened by an increase in venture capital invested in technology companies. The Legislature authorized a 25 percent tax credit for small companies (those with fewer than 25 employees) engaged in research and development in specific high-tech fields. The state ranks fifth in the number of business startups with 53.4 per 1,000 residents.

The State Technology and Science Index provides a benchmark for policymakers to evaluate their state’s capabilities and formulate strategies for improving STEM education, attracting businesses, and creating jobs in the tech sector. Indices considered in the report include the number of patents issued and doctoral degrees granted in each state.

“Investing in human capital and developing a STEM workforce is crucial for regional economies that want to attract large technology companies and the jobs they bring,” explains Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute’s director of regional economics research.

In addition to the index, the report offers case studies that examine issues such as non-compete contracts that limit employee mobility, along with access to higher education in building a vibrant, adaptable workforce.

Drawing on this data, the report recommends four steps policymakers can take to improve their state’s competitiveness:

Increase scholarships and other financial aid to lower the cost of higher education for in-state students who plan STEM careers.

Better align STEM curriculums to make it easier for students to transfer credits from lower-cost two-year colleges to four-year institutions.

Encourage partnerships between higher-education institutions and private companies to provide students with work experience to improve workforce readiness and job placement.

Make employee noncompete laws less restrictive to encourage a freer exchange of ideas and talent among tech companies.

The index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey, and Moody’s Analytics.

Source: milkeninstitute.org

From the Corps to Corporate America

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Headshot of Laurie Sayles

U.S. Veterans Magazine asked Laurie Sayles, president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions (CivilityMS), and Jackson Dalton, president and founder of Black Box Safety, Inc., to share what it was like for them to transition out of the military and into the boardroom.

Laurie Sayles with Civility Management Solutions

Founded in 2012, CivilityMS provides professional consulting services as an SBA 8(a) certified, verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman and Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB/WOSB). The firm’s status as a SDVOSB is verified with the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) and the Veterans First Contracting Program.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Laurie Sayles (LS): I am from Chicago, IL, and have always sought out a means of having my own money or supplementing my income. I was a baby-sitter to single women in the low-income projects complex I resided as a young girl and I modeled professionally during high school, all before I joined the USMC. So, I often say that I have always been an entrepreneur.

But after getting out of the USMC, I returned to supplementing my income. I tried medical billing as a home-based business only to learn it was a scam. I also became a wellness coach and a bootcamp fitness instructor, to name a few.

My journey was long after transitioning because there was no outreach during the 90’s for military personnel leaving the USMC. For example, TAPS didn’t exist, and no one in the marketplace really cared that you were a veteran. Also, the Internet was not what it is today and there was no support to help translate your MOS. It was a more challenging time.

But I wanted to work in corporate America, so I took a job for $17,000 in 1989 as a receptionist. With that, the journey began to learn the difference of being a civilian in this space as an African-American woman with no degree. Within a short period of time, I began to take English, grammar and speaking courses to help me modify my means of communication.

I climbed the corporate ladder from receptionist to administrative assistant, to an executive assistant, to an operations director to a project manager over a 20-year period. Then in 2012, I became president and CEO of Civility Management Solutions.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

LS: My experience from the military has a huge influence in my skillset as a business owner. Again, being an African-American woman in business adds more challenges that many cannot identify with unless they belong to this ethnicity. But, thanks to being a woman that served in the Marine Corps, I am accustomed to operating in a man’s world and a world that is full of alpha males! The Marine Corps is not known to be, “The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” just as a slogan—it’s a culture and a lifestyle. As I often say, if you re-enlist in any branch of the military, it really speaks to you adapting and accepting that culture completely, otherwise you get out after first term. No one—and I do mean no one—that knows me personally walks away not knowing that I served in the Corps. It shows up in my demeanor and my strength as a business owner.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

LS: Make sure you start your homework early when you know your end date. There is so much to offer us when we get out of the military, and finally this country is beginning to recognize this fact. Our discipline, leadership, resilience and determination set us apart from anyone else who never served. So, with running anything … you’ve been trained while you wore the uniform; trained to operate in high integrity; and trained to leave no man behind. All three of these lead to you being a strong leader willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Help others be successful as you become successful.

Do take advantage of all the training being offered by the SBA in your State, affiliates of the SBA, and programs offered to veterans of the military. Get yourself affiliated with associations and advocacy groups that focus on the type of work you want to do as a business owner.

Lastly, network, network and network some more to find people that you can engage with. And get yourself some mentors! Each one will add different values and you can call on them as needed.

Jackson Dalton and Black Box Safety, Inc.

Headshot of Jackson DaltonBlack Box Safety, Inc. specializes in the prevention of serious injury in the workplace by supplying safety equipment for government agencies and organizations. Dalton is a Board-Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master’s degree (MPH) in public health—only 17 percent of CSPs hold both (Board of Certified Safety Professionals, 2017) —as well as a Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

USVM: Tell us about your transition from military life to one as a business owner.

Jackson Dalton (JD): I was injured while serving in the Marine Corps. As a direct result of the injuries I sustained, I went through 3 leg surgeries and was not able to walk for a year. While serving, I was hurt at work—essentially an occupational injury. From this experience, I have made it my mission in life to ensure that others aren’t hurt at work, so that they can continue to do the things that they love to do.

As a direct result of my Marine Corps experience, I transitioned from the military into a career in occupational health and safety. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Public Health, and spent over 10 years working as a Safety Engineer. Three years ago, it was my desire to help more people in a more meaningful way so I left my job at 3M and started my company, Black Box Safety, Inc., which is a supplier of safety products and safety training to government agencies and organizations that are looking for ways to reduce risk and help their employees stay safe and healthy.

USVM: How did your experience in the military influence your skillset as a business owner?

JD: My experience in the Marine Corps instilled two traits: Grit and bearing. Grit is the ability or decision to persevere in the face of extreme hardship and danger. Bearing is the ability to maintain a calm and confident demeanor in the face of adversity and uncertainty. I learned that the most contagious thing in the world is not infectious disease—it’s human emotion. As a leader, if I lose my bearing and communicate emotions of fear and stress, those emotions will be transferred to those I’m leading. I served as a squad leader in the Marine Corps and today I serve as President of Black Box Safety, Inc., where I am responsible for the health and welfare of 2 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

USVM: What advice would you give someone transitioning from the military into becoming a business owner?

JD: This is the advice that I would give to someone transitioning from the military to entrepreneurship

  1. Take advantage of every educational opportunity available including but not limited to: Post-secondary education funded through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Dept. of VA Vocational Rehabilitation Ch.31,; free business start-up courses offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) [SBA offers free business courses online at SBA.gov]; apply for a free SCORE mentor; podcasts featuring business start-up advice; and finally an often-overlooked resource that proved to be of great value and benefit to me, Shark Tank and YouTube.
  2. Join an incubator that is composed at least partially of active-duty and veteran business owners. I benefited greatly from the camaraderie I found by applying to a veteran incubator called Tactical Launch. I went through this incubator 2 years ago, and I am still close friends with many of the members of the cohort and many of us continue to be successful in business. The camaraderie is necessary when starting a business, especially if you are the sole founder. It’s actually the number one thing that servicemen and women miss the most when transitioning out of the military.
  3. If you are able to do so, start your business now. Many business startups require very little in the way of capital and expense. Most can be started out of your home with a phone, a laptop and a lot of determination. The biggest mistake I see in other founders is the desire to have everything ready prior to launch. A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.

VA Jobs You May Qualify for With Military Training

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transitioning veterans

You’ve spent years sacrificing for your country and working hard to protect it. But what happens when it comes times to transitioning to a civilian career? Are job opportunities available to you after military service?

Here’s some good news: You have a variety of options when it comes to a career at VA.

VA Careers has a Transitioning Military Personnel initiative designed to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.

In fact, based on certain military occupational specialties you learned in service, you can apply for several positions immediately after your service. Other VA positions offer preference for veteran applicants or are a good fit for those who worked in military health.

The even better news? We offer employees premium-paid health insurance and robust retirement plans. Veterans working at VA also enjoy education support through veteran-focused scholarships, professional development opportunities and accommodations to make the workplace fully accessible.

Ready to kick start a civilian career? Check out these five VA jobs you may be well suited for after military service:

  1. Intermediate Care Technician (ICT)

Former military medic or corpsman should look at ICT careers. As an ICT, you apply your military medical training and skills as a health care provider at a VA medical center (VAMC). You perform complex technician-level diagnostic and treatment procedures. You also provide intermediate and advanced paramedic-level care, intervene in crises and do much more.

  1. Health Technician/Para Rescue Specialist

Former corpsmen and medics bring the skills, abilities and experience acquired during active duty to careers as health technicians. These include delivering direct patient care, taking vital signs, administering medication and communicating results. Other responsibilities include providing diagnostic support and medical assistance to VAMCs and specialty clinics.

  1. Medical Support Assistant (MSA)

MSA positions require tact and diplomacy, and that’s why former military personnel are right for these roles. As the front-line contact with patients and staff, you set the tone for customer service at VA. You use your shared experience to comfort fellow veterans coping with administrative processes or difficult health issues.

  1. Nursing Assistant

Approximately 16 percent of all VA nurses are veterans. That’s not a surprising figure. Former military personnel bring the skills learned during service—working as team, caring for others and supporting a mission—to VA nursing careers. This role involves helping licensed nursing staff provide patient care. Although certification is desirable, it’s not necessary for your application. Nursing staff may take advantage of the special education support programs we offer to earn the degrees and certifications necessary to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse.

  1. Support Services

Every team member at VA has a meaningful role to play in the care of veterans, including those in the support services role. These positions include housekeeping aid, federal protective officer, engineering technician or transportation clerk. Housekeeping aides, in particular, are given veteran preference during the hiring process. “Our housekeeping staff keep facilities safe for our patients, and veterans and their families rely on them,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of VA Recruitment Marketing. “We are actively looking to fill these positions with quality employees, including our veterans.”

Source:  va.gov

5 Ways Veterans Can Leverage Facebook to Grow their Career or Business

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Payton Iheme smiling at the camera

By Payton Iheme, U.S. Public Policy Manager, Facebook

Each year, an estimated 200,000 service members return to civilian life and for some, this brings uncertainty to what’s next in their career, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, these service men and women continue to contribute to their country, even when they return, albeit in a different way.

I have spent more than 15 years on active duty and continue to serve—from being an officer in the Army’s Special Operations Command and a White House Senior Policy Advisor to currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. In addition, as the co-owner of a home remodeling business, I know firsthand how important it is to have the right tools and support, whether it’s in the military or as a veteran small business owner.

Everyday Facebook serves as a platform for veterans to find and be a part of groups that help them build community. In fact, more than 900,000 people in the US participate in more than 2,000 groups for military members, veterans and their spouses on Facebook. As a proud supporter of the military-veteran community, Facebook has also made it easier for veterans transitioning into civilian life to find career opportunities and draw on their unique skills to start their entrepreneurial journey.

That’s why we recently announced the launch of the Military and Veterans Hub to provide an all-encompassing resource for veterans to continue to build their community, find job opportunities and enhance their digital skills through Facebook to grow a business or a career.

Facebook also partnered with SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors, to provide business education and mentoring to military members, veterans and their families who want to become entrepreneurs. I utilized SCORE’s resources during my transition into civilian life and it helped me not only build on my experience and skills to find a new career, but it also gave me the confidence to start something new. I’m particularly thrilled about our partnership with SCORE and the opportunities it will unlock for fellow veterans.

Whether you want to build a business or a career, here are five ways military members, spouses and veterans can use Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub to their advantage:

1. Connect with a mentor from a cohort of SCORE’s experienced business mentors, who are also U.S. veterans themselves, through the Mentor Match program.

2. Access our veteran-focused educational toolkit for launching a business that includes steps for developing a business plan.

3. Attend a veteran-focused interactive workshop to receive guidance on starting a business. We’ll be working with ten local SCORE chapters to bring these in-person workshops to cities that we’ve determined to have a high concentration of military members and veterans.

4. Find employment opportunities through the Facebook Jobs Tool. Frank Diaz, an Army veteran and owner of Tin Hut BBQ, uses the Facebook Jobs Tool, for example, to source employees at his mobile restaurant with an objective to hire discharged veterans in need of work and mentorship.

5. Test out the Facebook Military Skills Translator, designed to help people find careers on Facebook relevant to their military experience. As the Public Policy Manager at Facebook, I’m proud to be a part of a company that values my experience and allows me to use my military skills to make an impact on the business.

Facebook’s Military and Veteran Hub make it easier for military spouses and the military community to find and access Facebook’s resources, tools, events and groups. For more information, visit our website here 

Payton Iheme (Facebook US Public Policy) focuses on policy issues on a range of topics, but works closely on issues related to the Internet, digital economy/small business, counter terrorism, cybersecurity, data privacy, and partnerships. Previously, she served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Communication Technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She holds honor degrees from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Government Policy from the George Washington University. Iheme currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur

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A clothes hangar filled with women's coats

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy. The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Veterans Make the Best Candidates for the Workforce

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A male body wearing a suit that is half black and half camoflauge

Recently, LinkedIn released its “Veteran Opportunity Report,” a list of data that serves to better understand the reality of transitioning veterans into the workforce. The data shows that Veterans are more likely to have a college education, more work experience, and a lower turnaround rate than those who have never served in the military.

These are all ideal qualities for job hiring and yet military veterans are still having a difficult time securing jobs due to the myths about hiring veterans. In fact, the same LinkedIn report stated the unemployment rate of veterans has increased by a whopping 34 percent. However, educating yourself and being aware of the myths are some of the first steps to understanding why military veterans can be some of the best employees for a company, regardless of what the company specializes in.

Myth #1: Veterans don’t have proper work experience

Yes, the culture on the battlefield is different from the culture at home, but military personnel are trained in several areas that result in trusted and efficient employees. In the military, the consequences of mistakes and the criticalness of executing orders are much higher than that of the workplace. Veterans are trained on how to properly ensure that their missions are carried out carefully and efficiently, which transfer over to completing workplace tasks and duties. Many also believe most veterans do not have the mental health to keep a job, but this, as the LinkedIn data show, is incorrect, as they stay at their jobs longer than those who have not served.

Myth #2: Veterans don’t have the capacity to be leaders

This need for attentive, efficient workers also transfers over for a need of management. Managers undergo a significant amount of stress, while trying to manage a group of employees. Veterans on the battlefield also undergo the stress of managing those they are in charge of, but at the risk of bigger stakes and stresses. Veterans are already used to a much higher level of stress when it comes to managing others, which gives them even more of an advantage when they manage employees with a lower level of stress. In fact, veterans are 70 percent more likely to take leadership roles than those who have not served.

Myth #3: Veterans Have a High Turnover Rate

In fact, the opposite is true. LinkedIn’s Report states veterans are actually more likely to stay with their companies for 8.3 percent longer than an employee who has not seen military culture. They are also 39 percent more likely to be promoted in filling larger roles than their counterparts.

It can be hard to know if an individual can take on a needed position, especially when rumors and misconceptions fly around on an entire culture. But taking a look at the data and experiences of veterans can help potential employers to understand how efficient their businesses can be if they hire the ones who know how to lead and succeed.

A Military Wife’s Guide to Suicide Prevention

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Depressed soldier leaning against the window covering his face with his arm

Aleha Landry is one of the many people who has a military spouse suffering from a form of mental illness from military experience.

Through her personal experiences tending to her husband’s mental health conditions and her knowledge of the rising suicide rate among military personnel, Landry does everything in her power to help those suffering from these conditions.

Through her husband’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, Landry has had a look at the various military-implemented mental health programs that help military personnel in these specific instances. Though in place for good reason, Landry has expressed her husband’s distaste for the programs, as they claim to be a solution for an issue that is as complicated and complex as mental health. To bring awareness to what veterans are actually feeling in times of mental health issues, Landry writes letters to Air Force leaders and members of Congress.

Though she is yet to receive a response to her letters, Landry does offer three helpful tips that she believes should be implemented into the mental health programs for military personnel.

  • Therapists working through these programs should either be stationed to stay in one place or at least have a five-year commitment to where they are currently located. Many of the therapists that Landry’s husband has seen have relocated in a short span of time, forcing him to retell his story and rebuild trust over and over again. Lancey believes that having one therapist who is guaranteed to stick around would allow for trust, understanding and healing to be better implemented.
  • Guarantee off-base counseling. This would allow for those seeking therapy to have a wider range of choice in finding the right counselor, rather than feeling the pressure to have to talk with a specific person.
  • Reduce the redundancy in progress questionnaires. Many questionnaires given to track the mental progress of military personnel are redundant and frustrating, according to Landry, who believes asking the questions once and having them answered to a therapist rather than on a sheet of paper would decrease frustration and give patients the sense of being cared for.

TECH EXPO – Virtual Hiring Event

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Mans hands shown tying on laptop computer

TECHEXPO Top Secret, the Nation’s premier producer of professional job fairs for the defense & intelligence industry, has proudly announced that they are launching a Virtual Hiring Event for Security-Cleared professionals. For over 25 years, TECHEXPO has consistently produced the leading cleared in-person hiring events for the most sought-after positions in IT, Engineering, Cyber Security, and a multitude of other industries.

During these unprecedented times, TECHEXPO understands the need for both job seekers and employers to be able to interview for open positions, all while practicing social distancing. Through this virtual Hiring Event, TECHEXPO provides a safe way to interview from the comfort of each individual’s own home or office. The distinguishing feature that sets TECHEXPO apart from the rest is the ability for job seekers and recruiters to conduct full interviews via live video, in addition to text chat.

The TECHEXPO Virtual Hiring Event will be held on May 14th and will be for professionals with any level of active security clearance.

The event will run from 12 PM – 5 PM EDT.

Some of the top defense & technology companies have already confirmed their participation in this event, including Deloitte, L3Harris, Amazon Web Services, Boeing Intelligence & Analytics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Technology Sector, AT&T Government Services, Leidos and many more! “We are thrilled that so many top tier companies have stepped up and are participating in these virtual hiring events!” states Bradford Rand, CEO of TECHEXPO Top Secret.”

The team at TECHEXPO also produces the Official Cyber Security Summit series throughout the nation and Canada, whereby some of those conferences are going virtual with a monthly “Cyber Summit Power Hour” held throughout the USA. Details: www.CyberSummitUSA.com

Companies looking to recruit security-cleared talent safely and efficiently can secure their virtual booth by contacting Bradford Rand, CEO of TECHEXPO, at BRand@TechExpoUSA.com / 212-655-4505 ext. 223.

Security-Cleared Professionals, Transitioning Military and or Veterans are encouraged to explore & interview for hundreds of jobs all across the country.

To view the growing list of companies recruiting and to register to attend as a job seeker, please visit TechExpoUSA.com

Service in America’s Navy can be a plus-up for Civilian Employment

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Navy Veteran Kendrick Cowans is pictured at work next to the Texas Orthopedics office sign

By Burrell Parmer, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs

Service in America’s Navy not only can benefit many with the propensity to serve, but can also be beneficial to those who seek employment after military service. This was the case regarding Kendrick Cowans, of Anderson, South Carolina, who served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman (HM).

Cowans, a 1997 graduate of Westside High School in Anderson, joined America’s Navy in September 1997. Initially, he was classified as a submariner, but due to his high stature, he was reclassified to serve in the hospital corpsman career field.

During his 21-year career in America’s Navy, Cowans served at Navy Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia; National Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland; Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and overseas in Germany.

His last duty was as a recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting Station Texas City with Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Houston.

“Being a recruiter was challenging,” said Cowans. “But once I learned the process, it became something I loved and became very successful at.”

According Cowans, he recruited more than 100 people into the Navy and was instrumental in his station earning NTAG Houston’s Small Station of the Year in 2016.

Additionally, he earned recruiter of the month recognition for several months.

After his service, Cowans began working as an orthopedic technician in Houston. He applied for other jobs and was called upon to work at Texas Orthopedics in February.

“They looked at my experience as a Navy corpsman and I believe it gave me the advantage over others,” said Cowans. “Everything I learned in the Navy prepared me for employment in my civilian life.”

Asked what he missed the most about his past service, Cowans said, “One thing I missed about being in the Navy is traveling. I loved being assigned to different locations and experiencing various environments.”

America’s Navy is still hiring amid COVID-19. Those interested in joining the Navy in Central and South Texas can contact a recruiter by visiting www.navy.com or through Facebook: Navy Recruiting District San Antonio.

Sailors can still expect to receive full benefits like health insurance, competitive pay and housing stipends and can continue to qualify for up to $40,000 in enlistment bonuses.

Whether a person has never served before, or want to serve the country again in a time of great need, there is a place for them in America’s Navy.

NRD San Antonio’s area of responsibility includes more than 34 Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Officer Recruiting Stations spread throughout 144,000 square miles of Central and South Texas territory.

Source: Navy Office Of Community Outreach
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Burrell Parmer, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio Public Affairs

One Pedal at a Time

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Dan Hurd standing behind his bike which has several personal belongings tied to it.

Dan Hurd’s infectious smile and true contentment rests gently with him wherever he goes. But this hasn’t always been the case. There have been many days where the voices of fear, shame, depression, and anxiety have made it hard to smile and trust others.

The years of sexual abuse, PTSD from time served in the military, battling years of painful addictions, and struggling to ever have any real peace eventually lead to him believing this life just wasn’t worth living anymore.

After multiple failed suicide attempts, Hurd was invited to go on a weekend ride with friends that would inevitably change the course of his life forever. Here’s his personal account:

In 2017, I was in a dark place in life. I had tried to commit suicide for the third time and felt like my life was this dark void. After I was released from the hospital, I was in the stage of telling everyone I was better, but deep down, I still had no idea how to change my life or what direction to go in.

My best friend had tried for years to get me to go bicycling with him with no success. He was an avid rider and I never really had the motivation to join him. I rode motorcycles, and in my mind, it would be a downgrade.

This time though, for several reasons, I ended up taking him up on his offer. With nothing to lose, I decided to ride with him and two mutual friends. We rode 20 miles. It felt good in the moment but I still felt the same after. A few days later we rode again. This time 30 miles. Again, in the moment riding felt good, but this feeling of being in a void lingered. What changed everything was the third ride I took with him the following weekend. We took a 166-mile trip.

I remember in the first half falling asleep while riding and barely made it to our destination. What helped me get through was the encouragement of my friend, who told me, “stop worrying about what we’ve done and don’t worry about what we got left; it’s left, right, left, one pedal at a time.” After that trip everything changed.

I realized what got me through it wasn’t worrying about the past or the future but only living in the moment. Taking it “one pedal at a time” became my mantra and my turning point. Hearing that was like someone throwing a glow stick in the void. My void wasn’t as deep as I thought.

I fell in love with bicycling and started planning longer trips. I became addicted, but it was a better addiction then my past choices of alcohol and drugs.

After only a few months of riding, I knew that I needed to do something EPIC.

Cycling proved to be so transformational for Hurd that he decided to sell everything he had, get a bike and begin a journey around the country, visiting fellow veterans he had served with in the Navy. He traveled across 48 states in the continental United States. As the trip went along, it was obvious that it was meant to be more than just a trip to visit friends. The journey totaled 25,000 miles in about three years to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Broken down on a daily basis that’s 22 miles a day, and that’s my dedication to service members that lose their battle every day to suicide,” Hurd said.

His deep passion to share his gift of cycling with others, along with his desire to raise awareness about suicide prevention, was how the One Pedal At A Time Movement was created.

Now after 20+ states and thousands of miles later, you’re invited to be a part of this journey and learn to take life, one petal at a time. Join the movement! #OPAATMOVEMENT

To learn more, visit: ridewithdanusa.com or opaatmovement.com

How to Translate Your Military Background into a Role in Cybersecurity

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Happy Military Family wife dreeses in fatigues holding child in arms with husband outside setting

Demand for cybersecurity talent is at a record high. Faced with a critical shortage of qualified candidates, organizations are increasingly taking chances on nontraditional applicants and training them for security roles. And many companies welcome veterans seeking jobs outside the military as exceptional candidates.

The fact is, our nation needs more cybersecurity professionals in every sector and in every region. For veterans seeking jobs outside the military, cybersecurity is an excellent way to translate existing training and experience into new responsibilities.

According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS™), demand for cybersecurity experts is growing 12 times faster than the current U.S. job market, making cybersecurity one of the most sought-after careers in the country. Security clearances, combined with IT certifications and other training, make military veterans extra attractive employees.

So if you like technology, want to put your military skills to excellent use as a civilian, and seek a career with tremendous growth and earning potential, look no further. Enlisted and former officers often possess the mission mindset, time management skills, discipline and leadership information security demands.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Even without direct experience, there are viable strategies you can put in place when adding cybersecurity to your job prospects. (ISC)2, the world’s largest nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals, developed a complimentary eBook offering tips and resources for breaking into the field. You can request your copy here.

(ISC)2 believes that with the right action plan and an aptitude for technology, you are already well-positioned to make the transition. Self-study, guided training and industry certifications will put you on the right path. There’s no need to wait until after you’ve retired from active duty to build these skills.

A training and certification partner you can count on, (ISC)2 has supported the government workforce since 1994. The organization fully understands the policies, requirements and challenges involved in securing our nation’s most critical assets. From cybersecurity readiness training to government-specific certifications to NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework mapping, (ISC)2 has you covered.

All (ISC)2 certifications are ANSI-approved, and most meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 8570.1. In fact, (ISC)2 developed its CAP certification to align with the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF).

An Alternative Path to Certification

Aspiring cybersecurity pros often consider a path to certification through the Associate of (ISC)², which allows you to take (ISC)2 certification exams without the required work experience.

Passing the exam earns you the Associate of (ISC)² designation – a badge that signals to potential employers you have security knowledge and are committed to the career. It also gives you access to (ISC)² resources to continue your education throughout the certification journey and beyond.

As you take next steps, don’t underestimate the value of your professionalism, life experience and leadership. These are key strengths in any sector, and savvy organizations understand that the military prepares veterans for civilian careers in ways that rival many programs and education. And as someone who puts others’ lives ahead of your own, who is better than you to serve and protect on the front lines of cybersecurity?

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