Economic Opportunities Committee
Current Committee Report
BY FRANK BARRY, CHAIR
Veterans in Transition
BY FRANK BARRY, CHAIR
One of the most difficult tasks for veterans returning to the civilian workforce is how to present themselves and their experiences in a way that makes civilians understand that veterans have what it takes to help a business be successful.
The U.S. Department of Labor has been attempting to help by having returning veterans attend Targeted Assistance Program workshops. Having attended a TAP workshop, I can attest that it is merely a cursory attempt at helping veterans make the transition. Each veteran is given a book—The Military to Civilian Transition Guide—which covers such topics as identifying skills, interests, and values; conducting research; creating dynamic resumes and letters; networking; and negotiating salaries and benefits.
A more recent resource is a book by Lida Citröen, Your Next Mission: A Personal Branding Guide for the Military-to-Civilian Transition (Palisades Publishing,www.YourNextMissionBook.com), which focuses on “branding oneself,” i.e., what makes a veteran unique and how to communicate that uniqueness to an interested audience.
How does a veteran build a personal brand? First, take a look at your current brand, the reputation that you have built in the minds of other people. Second, take inventory of what inspires you; what skills you are known for; what skills you are good at; what skills, talents, or credentials you are missing; and what motivates you. Third, articulate your desired brand—the legacy you hope to leave. Fourth, set the vision of your goals. Fifth, solicit and encourage honest feedback. Sixth, understand your target audience and your competition.
Important topics about understanding the transition include career myths, reasons for hiring a veteran, the corporate culture, trust, Hollywood misconceptions of veterans, and civilian careers outside the corporate structure.
Citröen’s final chapter includes valuable job search tools (business cards, resumes, cover letters); positioning oneself for success (building an intentional network of contacts, building credibility by telling people what you believe in and what you value, positioning yourself as a subject-matter expert or valuable connection), research and preparation (researching the company and its staff, checking the company’s LinkedIn page, conducting in-person follow up with the people you know and asking for an informational meeting, having notes and questions ready from the research), and the job interview (reviewing standard candidate interview questions, image and dress, what to bring to the interview).
There are many resources available. Sharing them will help many veterans make that transition. The Economic Opportunities Committee will continue to work to ease the transition of those coming home
BY FRANK BARRY
The VVA Economic Opportunity Committee, as required by Convention Resolution, provides this yearly report.
In keeping with the committee’s priorities, the focus was on jobs in the public and private sector, veterans who own or wish to own small businesses, identification of training to enhance quality of life for veterans and their families.
The committee supported various legislative initiatives: the VOW Act which President Obama signed in December; the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2011 which creates new businesses for veterans; Fairness to Veterans Act of 2011; National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2011;Help Veterans Own Franchises Act; Franchise Education for Veterans Act and the VET Act of 2011 which will allow veterans to use their educational benefits to start or purchase a qualifying business enterprise. A package of these bills will accompany President John Rowan when he testifies on the Hill in March.
Policies that the committee is challenging: the VA’s Vets First Policy for Service Disabled Veterans Small Businesses; the VA’s on-going recertification for disqualifying any veteran owned business; failure of most federal agencies to meet their objectives in procurement contracting.
In collaboration with other committees, the EOC is drafting legislation to stop predatory proprietary schools who are receiving veterans’ GI Bill funds without providing adequate training for securing jobs or valid degrees.
Another area of concern is veteran unemployment. The committee is raising awareness of the real unemployment problem which is in the National Guard and Reserve, not those coming off active duty as portrayed in the press. The committee will work on supporting legislation that addresses the unemployment of three groups: transitioning military/veterans, Reservists, and National Guard.
Respectfully submitted by Frank Barry, EOC Chair.
April 20, 2012
Call to Order
In Attendance: Frank Barry, Ric Davidge, Ted Daywalt, Marc Goldschmitt, Bob Hesser, Paul Ignosh, Dave Johnston, Rick Weidman, and Joe Wynn. Also attending Darrol L. Brown, President Nevada State Council.
· Expanding Education & Training: To begin moving veterans out of the unemployment lines, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits up to 1-year of additional VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits.
· Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Too many service members don’t participate in TAP and enter civilian life without a basic understanding of how to compete in a tight job market. Therefore, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act makes TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrades career counseling options, and job hunting skills, as well as ensures the program is tailored to individuals and the 21st Century job market.
· Facilitating Seamless Transition: Getting a civil service job can often take months which often forces a veteran to seek unemployment benefits. To shorten the time to start a federal job after discharge, this bill allows service members to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status prior to separation. This facilitates a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA, or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring our veterans.
· Translating Military Skills and Training: This bill also requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how to translate military skills and training to civilian sector jobs, and will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certification our veterans need.
· Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.
Staff Director Brinck said that the new TAP briefings will be mandatory for all military personnel (with some exceptions) where the vets will be more informed about the resources available to them. He stated that some veterans would be eligible for an extra 24 months of Voc Rehab if their initial 26 weeks had already been used. Under the VOW Act, there is a provision to implement a Veterans Retraining & Assistance Program (VRAP) where older veterans can get 12 months of retraining assistance in high demand occupations and $1,500 per month.
Staff Director Brinck stated that there is still a stigma associated with vets who acknowledge that they have PTSD. Ted Daywalt stated that some people even believe that PTSD is contagious.
Committee members had the opportunity to ask questions and clarify the intent of the legislation.
Next Committee Meeting October 5, 2012 in Silver Spring
Did you know?
As you are aware OPM has developed Feds Hire Vets web site to assist in the Veterans Employment Initiative? Go to www.fedshirevets.gov for more information.
BY RIC DAVIDGE, CHAIR We call it Econ Ops. That’s short for Economic Opportunities Committee. Why the change? Very few people understood what the old ETaBO Committee was, and we have decided to adjust our priorities.
The committee will now put as much effort into helping veterans become successful in starting their own business. We will not abandon our charge of ensuring that the federal government meets its responsibilities to service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses, but we know that many new veterans want to start their own businesses.
Keeping Alaskans Out of the Cold
STATE OF ALASKA REPORT TO GOVERNOR FRANK MURKOWSKI
VetJobs, Leading Internet
“We at Vietnam Veterans of America are pleased to endorse VetJobs, the nation’s largest military-related job board on the Internet,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “With the unemployment rate of newly discharged military veterans hovering around 15 percent–three times the national unemployment rate–VetJobs is a key resource for them and for Vietnam-era veterans too young to retire.
“We have looked at many sites that purport to provide jobs for veterans and their family members,” Rowan said. “Our endorsement is meant to let our members know that VVA recognizes the success that VetJobs has had in finding quality jobs for thousands of veterans and their family members. We encourage them to use the VetJobs site: www.VetJobs.com.”