Transition Help Without The DoD PowerPoint Slides

Soldiers line up to check in for the CivilianJobs.com job fair sponsored by the Fort Campbell, Ky., Army Career and Alumni Program office. Hundreds of transitioning service members, veterans, and their family members took part in the event.

My thanks to Barrett Bogue, Student Veterans of America vice president of Public Relations and Digital Engagement, for passing along a new website focused on transitioning service members.

While the issues covered in Rebootcamp may sound similar to the TAP classes you sat through, don’t worry – there’s no “death by PowerPoint” here. The site includes edutainment videos, informative how-tos, custom tools, and inspirational stories about veterans.

Education, employment and entrepreneurship are the cornerstones of the new site, Rebootcamp, produced by the Military Times. The strength of the website; the many partners that contribute.

A huge chunk — maybe even a majority — of the information, advice and other content that you’ll see comes from more than a dozen partners, spanning veterans service organizations, government agencies and the private sector.

A few of the recommended articles:

Another resource to check out, Project Transition USA, a non-profit organization that shows service members how to use LinkedIn to help transitioning military find meaningful careers in the civilian world.

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75 Employers At Military Spouses, Veterans Job Expo

PHOTO COURTESY: Visit Tampa Bay

In addition to the job opportunities – military spouses and veterans who register prior to the event will have a chance to win free tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Ottawa Senators hockey game.

The Hiring Our Heroes Expo is scheduled Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL.

However, doors open at 9 a.m. for those interested in the free, Career Connections employment workshop to help build your resume and translate military skills into civilian skills. There are additional resources for connecting with veteran-friendly employers, digital networking and job search techniques.

Expo sponsors, in addition to the Lightning, are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Lockheed Martin and USAA. Employers range from large, national companies to smaller, regional businesses.

Since 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment through more than 1,100 job fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and on military installations overseas.

Veterans Get Free Training For “New Collar” Jobs

About a dozen veterans took part in the intense week-long training and certification offered for free by IBM. The first session of 2017 was offered in Tampa, FL.

It’s estimated the high tech industry will create more than 200,000 “new collar” jobs in the next three years. To fill those positions, IBM is tapping into a workforce that’s already well trained – veterans.

“We need to get people to hit the ground running and be productive,” said Tampa IBM executive Stuart Bean. “And you just can’t fill them unless you have people who are already disciplined, already trained, mature enough, (and) can hit the ground running.”

Tampa IBM hosted the first veterans session of 2017 followed by a free veterans’ session this week in at Asher College in Las Vegas and April 3 in Pittsburgh, The Tower at PNC Plaza, 300 Fifth Avenue. Additional sessions are available in Philadelphia, Houston and Fort Hood, Texas and several other cities. Continue reading

Florida Puts Out Call To All Women Veterans

Florida has 160,000 women veterans living in the state, yet some of those women do not consider themselves a veteran and many more have never applied for veterans’ benefits.

 Female Veterans in Iraq. A New Resource for Female Vet on VA health care and benefits: 1-855-VA-WOMEN. Credit Department of Veterans Affairs


Female Veterans in Iraq. A New Resource for Female Vet on VA health care and benefits: 1-855-VA-WOMEN.
Credit Department of Veterans Affairs

Matching women veterans with available benefits, resources and support is the goal of the 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Conference July 30-31, 2015 at the University of South Florida

“Women veterans have a lot of gender specific issues,” said Alene Tarter, director of benefits and assistance for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA). “But often they don’t consider themselves veterans because male veterans or male family members have told them that they are not.”

She said many of the older women veterans are unaware that their veterans or entitled to veterans benefits.

“I’m a veteran. I only served a couple of years in the Air Force and I didn’t know I was a veteran for 25 years,” said Larri Gerson, supervisor of claims for FDVA.

From a previous Operation Stand Down.

From a previous Operation Stand Down.

Raising awareness and then helping women file for their veteran benefits is one reason why the state agency is planning the free, two-day conference in Tampa.

“I’ll be talking about the appeals process having women veterans understand what we can do to help them with their claim for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and MST, military sexual trauma,” Gerson said.

Sessions also will cover employment, vocational training, and an elder law expert along with an opportunity to sit down with benefits experts from the FDVA who will help women vets with their claims.

The 2nd Annual Florida Women’s Veterans Conference is free and open to women vets, their spouses and support. Online registration is available through the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Launching Careers, Finding Jobs for Vets with ‘Urgent’ Need

Russ Barnes, a retired Air Force colonel, who designed the USF Veterans Employment Project.

Russ Barnes, a retired Air Force colonel, who designed the USF Veterans Employment Project.

Despite the improving economy, finding a job or establishing a career remains a challenge and will be especially so for the million or more military service members expected to transition to civilian life in the next few years.

So, the University of South Florida Office of Veteran Services created the Veterans Employment Project, thanks to a grant from the JP Morgan & Chase Company, to prepare USF student veterans for the competitive civilian market.

Russ Barnes, a retired Air Force colonel with 27 years of service, designed the program. More than 30 student veterans applied, but the sessions need to be smaller to provide one-on-one help.

So, he prioritized the applicants with a survey. Those who scored 10 out of 10 as “urgent” that they find a job in the next three months were accepted first.

“We want to solve that right now,” Barnes said. “They’re urgent. We want to get them right now.”

The employment project he created is not the typical workshop. Barnes turns things upside down. Instead of starting with resume writing, he ends with it. He begins by focusing the veterans on their passion, their ideal career or job.

Then, he guides them working backward, identifying their industry of interest, researching companies, and then honing their resume to fit the job description.

USF student veteran Joshua Gleaton will graduate in May 2015 with a criminology degree.

USF student veteran Joshua Gleaton will graduate in May 2015 with a criminology degree.

By the end of day one, Barnes had the six student veterans in his August session signed up on Linked In. They had to join a professional group in their area of interest, researched companies and made personal connections with people working in their desired profession.

Joshua Gleaton spent more than four years in the Army as a forward observer. The former sergeant is completing a degree in criminology as he works with students at the USF Office of Veteran Services.

“These guys are veterans, they have military experience, there’s still an enormous amount of competition in the work field,” Gleaton said.

His goal is to have a career as a state game warden or work in criminal forensics for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Gleaton said the mock interview process helped him the most.

“One question that caught me off guard is ‘What is my biggest weakness?’ because you don’t want to sound like you have a weakness,” Gleaton said. “You try to turn that into that into a positive answer. “

Student veterans pair off to complete an exercise during a 5-day USF Veterans Employment Project August session.

Student veterans pair off to complete an exercise during a 5-day USF Veterans Employment Project August session.

To prepare the student veterans for interviews, Barnes brought in Crista Shaw, a disability and employment specialist and author of Passport to Education.”

After introducing herself on day four, Shaw, who volunteered to come, started with a couple of questions the veterans may encounter during a job interview.

“Has anybody here been fired from a job, two, three, my hand is up too,” Shaw said, putting them at ease. “I’ve been fired from a job. Let me tell you how to answer this question. “

Shaw did role playing with Franklin Castillo, a Marine going for his MBA. She worked with him on how to shorten his answer and bring the question back around to the present and positives he learned from being dismissed.

“If you leave with one thing today, I would tell you wherever you go you’re in an interview and if you can just be yourself, relax and be yourself,” Shaw advised.

Castillo is one of the student veterans who marked in his survey that it is urgent he find a job in the next three months. He wants to work for a commercial bank in anti-money laundering and fighting fraud.

Russ Barnes conducting the Veterans Employment Project session at the USF student veterans lounge.

Russ Barnes conducting the Veterans Employment Project session at the USF student veterans lounge.

“I came here with a preconceived notion, now as we’ve gone through the week, I’m so desirous to put this to work,” Castillo said.

Barnes said the employment workshop works both ways. Helping veterans adjust to the civilian job market and assisting employers by dispelling common myths about military veterans.

“Some of the misconceptions: in the military they always tell you what to do. They tell you what to eat, where to go what to do. They tell you when to do it, they tell you how to do it. And then you just do it,” Barnes said. “Many business owners say ‘I can’t have someone like that in my company, I need somebody who will be creative and work on their own.’ That is definitely a misconception.”

The workshop ended on the fifth day with mock interviews for the veterans. However,  Barnes said there’s a sixth module – the actual interview and job placement. He plans to stay in touch with all the student veterans until they land their ideal position.

In the interim, a third USF veterans’ employment 5-day session is scheduled to start Sept. 15, 2014.

You can listen to the radio story on WUSF Public Radio.

Job and Career Events for Veterans, Military Families

Veterans and military family members looking for a job or a new career – today is your day. Several Florida state agencies are sponsoring Paychecks for Patriots.

Image courtesy of VeteransToday.com.

Image courtesy of VeteransToday.com.

There are 18 hiring events planned throughout Florida Wednesday, July 16, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. organized by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and the Florida National Guard.

The state is partnering with Dollar General and nearly 500 employers that are interested in the knowledge, skills, and of military veterans.

Paychecks for Patriots events in the Tampa Bay area:

  • NEW PORT RICHEY – CareerSource Pasco Hernando
    4440 Grand Blvd.
    New Port Richey, FL 35652
    Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast will be in attendance.
  • ARCADIA – CareerSource Heartland
    DeSoto County
    2160 NE Roan Ave
    Arcadia, FL 34266
  • LAKELAND – CareerSource Polk
    Florida Army National Guard
    4140 Drane Field Road
    Lakeland, FL 33811
  • SARASOTA – CareerSource Suncoast
    HQ 3-265th ADA
    2890 Ringling Blvd.
    Sarasota, FL 34237
  • SEBRING – CareerSource Heartland
    Highlands County
    5901 US 27 S, Suite 1
    Sebring, FL 33870
  • WAUCHULA – CareerSource Heartland
    Hardee County
    324 Sixth Ave North
    Wauchula, FL 33873

Unable to attend a Paychecks for Patriots hiring event? Veterans and military members can apply for available positions online at www.employflorida.com.

8 Benefits for Veterans and Military in ‘Florida GI Bill’

Governor Rick Scott signs the 'Florida GI Bill' with Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, Rep. Doc Renuart, Rep. Jimmie Smith and Rep. Jimmy Patronis at the Panama City ceremony. Photo Courtesy of Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

Governor Rick Scott signs the ‘Florida GI Bill’ with Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, Rep. Doc Renuart, Rep. Jimmie Smith and Rep. Jimmy Patronis at the Panama City ceremony. Photo Courtesy of Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Rick Scott positioned Florida to attract more veterans – beyond the estimated 1.5 million already living here – to attend college, to work and to retire in the state.

The “Florida GI Bill,” crafted to resemble the post-WWII benefits, includes measures for veterans, active-duty families and military installations.

A key provision is in-state tuition waivers for student veterans attending public colleges and universities. Student veterans lobbied for several years before lawmakers granted them the lower tuition rate now granted to vets no matter when they moved to Florida . It will cost universities and colleges an estimated $12 million.

Ray Mollison, president of the University of South Florida Student Veterans Association (SVA), said it was a team effort finally getting tuition waivers passed.

“People in the SVA, all of them together, really collaborated together to try to push this in-state tuition,” Mollison said Monday. “What this definitely emphasizes is, is that we definitely in the state of Florida facilitate veterans’ needs.”

Photo courtesy of the VA

Photo courtesy of the VA

Mollison believes the tuition benefit may attract more veterans to Florida for an education and job possibilities.

“It’s something that I’m looking forward to seeing in the fall semester, when it gets kicked off, because I think we’re going to see a new veteran population start flowing in,” Mollison said. “Because they realize Tampa has a great environment, a great area for employment opportunities.”

That’s what lawmakers hope as well. So the new law includes other “military friendly provisions”:

  1. $1.5 million in scholarships for Florida National Guard members
  2. $12.5 million to renovate and upgrade National Guard facilities
  3. $7.5 million to buy land surrounding MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, and Naval Support Activity in Panama City.
  4. It waives state professional licensing fees for veterans up to five years after discharge.
  5. It grants a waiver to active-duty military family members, spouses and dependents, so they don’t have to obtain a Florida drivers license to get a job or attend public schools in the state.
  6. It establishes Florida Is For Veterans, a new nonprofit corporation, to promote the hiring of veterans and to get veterans to move to the state.
  7. It also requires the state’s tourism arm, Visit Florida, to spend $1 million a year marketing to veterans.
  8. It establishes the Florida Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Florida Veterans’ Memorial Garden in Tallahassee.

The new law (HB 7015) goes into effect July 1, 2014. And in a tribute to former Cong. C.W. Bill Young, the tuition wavier act was named after the Pinellas County lawmaker who passed away in 2013 after more than four decades in Congress.

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