Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 6/30/14

Good news story of the day

D-Day veteran gets refund after his VA benefits slashed to $6 a month  (Fox News)  The Department of Veterans Affairs is making amends to an 89-year-old World War II vet whose monthly veteran benefit check was slashed from $300 to $6 to recoup an overpayment he never knew about.

Military Transition and Jobs News

MAP: Veteran Vs Non-Veteran Employment in CT  (Trumbull Patch)  In our fourth and final installment before we wrap up the series and designate the most patriotic towns in Connecticut in time for Independence Day, Patch has crunched the numbers behind veteran employment to see which towns and zip codes are supporting their troops when they come home.

Tactical Veteran: Frustrated job-seeker may need to adjust strategy  (Army Times)  A reader recently sent me this anguished email:  “I am a retired Marine Corps veteran and have built my résumé up considerably since I retired and also recently received two college degrees. I have a profile on LinkedIn. I have been applying for jobs for two years now and have officially quit!

Veterans News

Obama to name new VA chief  (USA Today)  President Obama intends to nominate West Point graduate Robert “Bob” McDonald — most recently chairman of Procter & Gamble, a Fortune 500 company — as secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, wracked by a scandal of systemic delays in health care.

Three military veterans benefit from local center that offers horse therapy  (WQOW) A local center is making strides in its mission to help veterans heal.

Director finds jobs for Ohio’s veterans  (The Columbus Dispatch)  Ohio ranks sixth in the nation for veteran residents, and seventh nationally for reserve and National Guard members.

50 VA hospital workers claim retaliation for blowing whistle on the horrors they saw  (The Washington Times)  When Valerie Riviello, a nurse at a Veterans Affairs facility in New York, saw the clinic restrain a sexual assault survivor to a bed for seven consecutive hours, she released the woman.

73-Year-Old Vietnam Vet Fired from Cracker Barrel for Giving Away Cornbread   (People)  Joe Koblenzer is 73 years old. He’s a Vietnam veteran, and until recently, he worked as a host at a Cracker Barrel in Florida.

Bill aims to aid Camp Lejeune contamination victims  (Pilot Online)  Two North Carolina congressional leaders have introduced legislation they say will help people exposed to contaminated water near a closed Asheville factory and a Marines Corp base.

Vietnam veteran fabricated heroic acts during trial  (The Augusta Chronicle)  In pleading the case of Charles Chavous in April, defense attorney Scott Con­nell detailed his heroic acts during the Vietnam War in an attempt to convince Judge Mi­chael N. Annis that Cha­vous was deserving of leniency.

‘Corrosive culture,’ weak leadership cripple VA, report says  (CNN)  The Veterans Affairs health care system needs to be overhauled because of unresponsive leadership and a “corrosive culture” that affects the delivery of medical care, said a report delivered Friday to President Barack Obama.

Benefits News

What every American should know about veterans and their health care  (Daily Kos)  Last week I wrote about Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson voting against additional funding for the Veterans Health Administration.

GI Bill funds flow to for-profit colleges that fail state aid standards  (CIROnline)  Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.

Whistleblower alleges VA improperly purged benefit applications  (Fox News)  Federal investigators are probing a whistleblower’s claims that applications for veterans seeking health care benefits may have been improperly purged from the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in suburban Atlanta.

Surge in patients outpaces fayetteville’s VA health care’s building boom  (FayObserver)  The Fayetteville VA Medical Center has been playing catchup for years.

The VA’s Secret Claims  (National Journal)  The long-standing slog within the Veterans Affairs Department to cut down its mountain of disability claims has been well documented.

VA investigates Atlanta enrollment office  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)  Federal investigators are examining allegations that thousands of veterans who applied for health care benefits had their applications purged improperly by the national Veterans Affairs enrollment eligibility office based in Atlanta, according to VA employees interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for 6/25/14

Good news story of the day

Decades after the Cold War, a VOA-Coast Guard Partnership is Honored  (VOA)  In 2014, long after the end of the Cold War, the USS Courier may not be familiar to most Americans, citizens of the former Soviet Union or the Eastern bloc. But, between 1952 and 1964, this Coast Guard vessel floated off the coast of Rhodes, Greece, and beamed thousands of hours’ worth of Voice of America broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Veterans job fair, resource event to be a first for Gloucester County  (NJ.com)  Gloucester County will host its first ever job fair and resource event specifically for veterans on Thursday, June 26.

Free veterans job fair is Thursday  (WKYC)  A free veterans job fair will be held Thursday at the Cleveland Public Auditorium & Conference Center.

Veterans Job Fair  (WTAM)  The Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission and local companies has come together to host a free hiring fair for veterans, active military members, reservists and military spouses. It will be held on Thursday, June 26th at Public Auditorium.

Job fair focused on military vets, featured Tejon Outlets retailers  (Bakersfield Now)  Companies from around Kern County filled the Bakersfield Marriott on Tuesday with the goal of bringing jobs to veterans returning to civilian life.

Veterans News

Woman admits bilking WW II vet out of $2.6 million  (Arizona Daily Star)  A woman accused of defrauding an elderly World War II veteran of more than $2.6 million confirmed everything police and prosecutors said about her crimes was true.

Congress Has One Hurdle Left to Pass a VA Bill, But It’s a High One  (National Journal)  The House and Senate have agreed it’s time for reform of the Veterans Affairs Department. Now they have to agree how to pay for it—and they have to do it quickly.

House chairman pushes to broaden funding for VA reform bill  (The Hill)  House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) on Tuesday said lawmakers may broaden their seach to pay for an overhaul of the troubled department.

Benefits News

Department of Veterans Affairs commemorates GI Bill 70th Anniversary  (Army.mil)  The Department of Veterans Affairs commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the GI Bill, originally the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, at George Washington University here, yesterday.

Alabama veteran granted VA benefits after more than 50 years  (WRBCtv)  Our NBC News partners at WSFA are reporting that  a Korean War Veteran’s 56-year struggle for Veterans Affairs benefits is finally over.

ADRIFT IN THE BACKLOG: Veterans face long waits for care, services  (Wicked Local)  When it comes to getting veterans services, long waits are often the norm.

Swalwell Announces Over $1 Million in Retroactive Benefits Veterans in District 15  (Livermore Patch)  Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) announced last week that his office has helped CA-15 veterans receive a total of more than $1 million in retroactive benefits such as disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Administration since January 2013.

VA’s next challenge — Expanding benefits for same-sex couples  (The Blaze)  While the Department of Veterans Affairs is just starting to climb out of the crisis related to veterans’ wait time for healthcare, the Obama administration is pushing the VA take on a new task — ensuring it delivers benefits to all same-sex couples.

When PTSD benefits are abused  (The Denver Post)  In 2009, Iraq war veteran Jesse Bratcher was looking at a long prison sentence when an Oregon jury instead found him guilty but insane due to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for for 6/23/14

Good news story of the day

Marine on Medal of Honor: ‘Surreal and kind of weird’  (USA Today)  A Marine who threw himself on a grenade during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan to save a comrade’s life received the Medal of Honor Thursday from President Obama.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Army drawdown continues:  1,100 Captains to be cut  (Stars and Stripes)  The Army drawdown continues this week, when about 1,100 Army captains will receive word that their military careers are about to end. Another 500 majors will get the same news in early July.

Operation Warfighter offers veterans career opportunities  (The Augusta Chronicle)  After four military tours in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sgt. Dirck Moize traded gunfire for a government office cubicle.

Fighting for a Job: Returning Vets Have Mixed Results Finding Employment  (The Ledger)  On first impression, Jordan Imig seems older than his 24 years.

Programs offer guidance to newly returned vets  (The Brownsville Herald)  As far as Bartolome “Bart” Naciancenov is concerned, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Veterans News

North Adams looks to state for more reimbursement as veterans budget grows  (The Berkshire Eagle News)  During last winter’s harsh cold, a local veteran who had fallen on hard times resorted to filling his heating oil tank, gallon by gallon, with the diesel fuel he bought at a gas station.

Audit from 2012 found VA clinics had been warned ‘not to game the system’  (Fox News)  A 2012 audit accused Department of Veterans Affairs clinical offices in Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas of routinely canceling appointments in blocks to manipulate wait times despite a nationwide directive from top VA officials “not to game the system.”

Military considers shopping perk for most veterans  (CNBC)  The U.S. military is looking into allowing all of the nation’s veterans who served honorably to shop online at exchanges that sell discounted, name-brand goods—a perk that is currently available only to a small minority.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Launches Hometown Heroes Service Learning Project  (Street Insider)  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) today announced the launch of the Hometown Heroes Service Learning Project.

Benefits News

Obama: Post-9/11 GI Bill keeps promise to newest vets  (Military Times)  You pick the school, and we’ll help pick up the bill.

Service members can now register on burn-pit list  (Military Times)  The Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is now live.

VA health care crisis hits home for veterans in Fayetteville  (FayObserver)  Mike Schultz holds his glasses away from his face and squints.

Government’s PTSD treatment for veterans lacking, report finds  (LA Times)  Despite spending billions of dollars a year to treat military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the government has little evidence that its efforts are working, according to a new report commissioned by Congress.

AP IMPACT: VA FALLS SHORT ON FEMALE MEDICAL ISSUES  (AP)  Already pilloried for long wait times for medical appointments, the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs has fallen short of another commitment: to attend to the needs of the rising ranks of female veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them of child-bearing age.

Op/Eds

Hero worship of the military is getting in the way of good policy  (The Washington Post)  I have worn an Army uniform for the past eight years and deployed twice to Afghanistan. This doesn’t make me a hero.

OpEd: Stop saying vets sacrificed ‘for nothing’ in Iraq  (Marine Corps Times)  I hate talking about it, but I will because people are doing a terrible job interpreting Iraq’s collapse.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for for 6/11/14

Good news story of the day

Los Borinqueneers Awarded Congressional Gold Medal  (The Courant)  President Barack Obama signed a bill Tuesday honoring the 65th Infantry Regiment, a unit of soldiers largely from Puerto Rico known as Los Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Military Transition and Jobs News

Abiomed, Salem State University and North Shore Community College Host First-Ever Life Sciences Career Seminar for Veterans  (Globe Newswire)  The MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP) announced today it will host the Boston area’s first-ever Student Veteran Re-careering Seminar for alumni and student military veterans interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences.

Employment workshop and job fair for veterans on June 18  (NJ.com)  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The American Legion and ESGR is announcing a Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) job fair and recently designed Employment Workshop, which is part of a nationwide effort to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.

Job fair for veterans slated for Tuesday in Dover  (Delaware Online)  Veterans looking for work should make plans to attend a job fair in Dover Tuesday.

Cumberland Co. job fair to benefit veterans  (The Washington Times)  The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with several lawmakers and organizations to have a job fair for veterans in Cumberland County on Tuesday.

Operation Hire: Maryland’s Veteran Challenge  (Military Times)  Veterans in Maryland should pay attention: your state has launched a big initiative to support veteran hiring for the next 100 days.

Veterans News

House passes VA overhaul bill … twice  (The Hill)  The House on Tuesday twice passed legislation to allow veterans to seek medical care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs if wait times are too long.

House Votes to Ban Bonuses for All VA Employees Through 2016  (Government Executive)  The House on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure that would ban bonuses for all Veterans Affairs Department employees for the next three years.

Marine sergeant major loses job after altercation depicted in viral video  (The Washington Post)  The debate over whether the United States should have exchanged five Taliban officials for the only U.S. soldier held in captivity by the insurgent group has devolved into this: A senior enlisted Marine just lost his job after an altercation between him and a Marine veteran was depicted in a viral video.

VA report provides lessons to other agencies on what not to do; stress on metrics risky  (The Washington Post)  The Department of Veterans Affairs’ report on outrageous waits for veterans seeking health care provides lessons that reach well beyond this one agency. As always, it’s the coverup that’s really getting people into trouble.

Benefits News

5 questions: Cutting benefits for military retirees  (Military Times)  Retired Army Lt. Col. Tom Slear has touched the third rail of military and veterans’ issues with an opinion piece arguing that a “very small decrease in pay” for military retirees would be reasonable, considering the need for the U.S. government to cut spending.

Report: Benefits claims related to sexual assault treated unevenly  (Military Times)  Veterans Affairs benefits workers are still wildly inconsistent in their handling of claims related to military sexual assault despite years of emphasis on the issues, a new Government Accountability Office report has found.

House votes to ensure speedier care at VA hospitals  (CBS)  United and eager to respond to a national uproar, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday to allow patients enduring long waits for care at Veterans Affairs facilities to get VA-paid treatment from local doctors.

Veterans Corner: Compensation benefits for dependents  (The Kingsburg Recorder)  When a veteran has a disability or disabilities that are rated by the VA at 30 percent or greater, disability compensation can be increased based on dependents. A claim for this increased benefit needs to be filed with the VA if there is any change in the status of the veteran’s spouse and/or children.

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Military/Veteran Jobs and Benefits news of the day for for 6/10/14

Good news story of the day

Man who stole from veterans charity gets 10 years  (The Town Talk)  A former treasurer of the Disabled American Veterans was sentenced Friday to 10 years in custody for stealing more than $100,000 from the charity.

Military Transition and Jobs News

L.A. Mayor Garcetti announces job assistance program for veterans  (LA Times)  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced a multi-agency assistance program for veterans whose employment prospects have lagged in the recovery, pledging to secure 10,000 jobs by 2017 for those who served in the military.

Hundreds of Military Veterans Fill Room at GI Go Fund’s South Jersey Veterans Job Fair  (University Chronicle)    The GI Go Fund served as host to nearly 450 veterans and their families, along with 65 employers, colleges, and health care providers at their latest South Jersey Veterans Job Fair on Monday, June 9th, 2014, at the Aloft Mount Laurel Hotel.

Top Employers Drafted to Give Vets Jobs, With No Corporate Perks—Other Than Serving Our Country  (Yahoo News)  Christina Watkins completed two deployments in Iraq before she returned to California to pursue a Master’s degree. Upon graduating, with years of military and academic achievement behind her, Watkins couldn’t even land a barista position at Starbucks.

Veterans News

House votes to boost VA inspector general  (The Hill)  The House on Monday passed legislation that would pressure the Department of Veterans Affairs to follow up on problems outlined by its inspector general.

Cleveland Clinic’s Cosgrove says no to VA job  (Fierce Health Care)  Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove. M.D., withdrew his name from consideration for the Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary job.

Veterans still battling 1973 fire that wiped out millions of service records  (Fox News)  While the Veterans Administration struggles to repair the damage caused by shoddy — and in some cases fraudulent — handling of health care for American service members, benefits for millions who served their country in four wars were wiped out in a fire more than 40 years ago, leaving many battling to this day to collect their due.

Benefits News

I’m an Army veteran, and my benefits are too generous  (Washington Post)  A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a receptionist in a physical therapist’s office that I was covered by Tricare, the military’s health-care program for service members, retirees and their families.

Audit: More than 100,000 vets had long waits for medical care  (Military Times)  More than 100,000 veterans have been identified as experiencing long wait times for medical appointments with nearly a quarter of those waiting 90 to 120 days for care, according to an audit released Monday by the Veterans Affairs Department.

IG: 69 VA facilities probed for manipulating appointments  (Military Times)  The Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general is investigating 69 medical facilities for manipulation of appointment wait times and has contacted the Justice Department in cases where staff has found evidence of potential criminal or civil wrongdoing.

Patients at Fayetteville VA Medical Center have longest wait times in the country, audit says  (FayObserver)  Patients at Fayetteville’s VA Medical Center have the longest wait times in the country, according to a nationwide audit released Monday.

Veteran Benefits Approved For The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics – Myrtle Beach Campus  (Aviation Pros)  PIA is proud to announce that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved the Myrtle Beach campus to receive VA benefits.

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A Perspective on the VA

As a veteran, I have been observing the ongoing events at the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than a passing interest.  Secret lists, overwhelmed medical facilities, a seemingly impenetrable bureaucracy, misguided compensation for questionable management practices – the hits just never seem to keep coming when it comes to news about he VA.

As a veteran, I am also a consumer of the VA’s programs: I was fortunate to be able to use the GI Bill for school, I go to a VA medical clinic for my checkups, and I engage with VA representatives who work hard every day to help veterans find jobs.

For me it is an interesting dichotomy.  I am neither a VA basher nor a VA cheerleader, but instead I am simply one of the approximately 22 million men and women in the United States who fall under the purview of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  And, to be quite honest, my experience has been a good one.

Because of the VA I was able to attend the University of Colorado to pursue my bachelor’s degree and, twenty years later, the University of Southern California and attain a Masters degree in Business Administration.  The nagging physical conditions that I incurred as a result of 27 years in uniform are covered by the VA medical system, and I have never had a really negative experience in obtaining care or the quality of the care that I have received.  I bought a house using a VA loan.  Twice.  I have a host of benefits as a result of my service; things ranging from access to state and federal parks for free (or at least at a discount) to increased opportunities for my children when they pursue college on their own.

The VA has some real problems, of that there is no doubt.  Eric Shinseki, an honorable man, retired general, and decorated combat veteran, was necessarily sacrificed on the altar of responsibility that comes with being the man in charge, and his ouster certainly sends a clear message that the VA will be accountable for its performance.

As it should be.

But let’s not forget for a moment the millions of veterans who are receiving the benefits that they have earned by wearing the cloth of the nation, the overwhelming majority of which are administered by dedicated and professional men and women who work at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Overgeneralization paints those who work diligently and assiduously with the same brush of those who are dishonest and unengaged, and to paint them all with the same brush does a disservice that the countless dedicated and hard working people at the VA do not deserve.

So remember that the VA is doing a tremendous amount of really great work for veterans even though some elements of the organization have failed to meet their obligation.  There is a baby in that bathwater- make sure it doesn’t get thrown out!

 

Military MOJO Junior Officer Career Event in Virginia Beach June 19-20

I first wrote about  Military MOJO several months ago.  MOJO (Military Officer Job Opportunities) specializes in matching transitioning and veteran military officers and noncommissioned officers who have earned college degrees.  They have four conferences spread across the country throughout the year (in Austin, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., and San Diego).  Dozens of companies are on hand at each conference to meet with hundreds of veterans, and a part of the engagement process includes resume review and placement of resumes onto a database that is accessible by participating companies.  It is a great organization that runs a great conference – if you are in the area you should check it out!

Military MOJO’s next conference goes in Virginia Beach, Virginia on June 19 – 20.  To learn more about the conferences, you can read the Military MOJO Conference Press Release.  If you for some reason you cannot follow the link, I have reposted the contents of the release below:

MOJO (Military Officers Job Opportunities) is a premier hiring event pairing commissioned military officers, senior non-commissioned officers, and non-commissioned officers holding degrees with national employers seeking veterans for leadership opportunities.  MOJO will be hosting four events this year in Austin, TX; Virginia Beach, VA; Washington, DC and San Diego, CA. Candidates and companies interested in this unique opportunity are invited to visit Military MOJO’s new website at http://www.militarymojo.org for more information on how to attend.

These events will showcase Commissioned Officers (formerly and currently commissioned): meet exclusively with Junior Military Officers (JMOs) and Senior Military Officers (SMOs) from the ROTC, OCS, CWO (Chief Warrant Officers), National Guard and graduates from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Naval Academy, West Point, Norwich College, The Citadel, Villanova, VMI, and other military schools. Senior Non-Commissioned Officers: meet with SNCOs (E-7, E-8, E-9) who are experienced high-potential, skilled leaders. They have hands-on technical and functional training, four-year college degrees.  Transitioning Non-Commissioned Officers:  meet with young, ambitious, college-degreed transitioning NCOs who potentially have previous corporate experience. These candidates have a minimum four year B.S. or B.A. degree from an accredited university and some have their MBA’s.  Candidates skill set/experience will include: STEM, Six Sigma/Supply Chain, Operations, Logistics, Project Management, Sales/Marketing, Manufacturing, Cyber/Intel, Consulting, Government/Defense, and many areas of Engineering.  Most candidates have TS/SCI, CI & FS POLY Clearances.

Candidate registration includes individual resume review and career coaching, a networking reception, industry seminars and face-to-face interactions with national companies. Our volunteer team in comprised of former military officers and corporate executives who are committed to the mission of supporting veterans transitioning into the private sector. Company registration includes booth space, interview space, a recruiter focus group (best practices military hiring), networking reception with complimentary food, beverage & bar. Companies will receive resumes of registered candidates 2-3 weeks prior to the career fair. There are no extra fees for hires. For a list of companies currently attending the event click here.

The dates and locations for the 2014 hiring events are:

  •     Austin, TX – March 27-28, 2014
  •     Virginia Beach, VA – June 19-20, 2014
  •     Washington, DC – September 25-26, 2014
  •     San Diego, CA – December 4-5, 2014 

Each event will feature a company check-in, recruiter focus group, industry seminars/sponsorships and networking reception on the Thursday prior to the career fair to bring the companies and candidates together. The career fair will take place on the following Friday from 9am-4pm with a one hour lunch break.  To learn more about the conference and registration for the different locations, visit http://www.militarymojo.org.

About Military MOJO: Military MOJO hosts exclusive hiring events throughout the year to pair military officers with high profile employers. The niche career conference showcases candidates who are currently and formerly commissioned officers: ROTC, OCS, Service Academy – West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Citadel, VMI, VA Tech, Warrant Officers. Some in attendance will be Wounded Warriors Officers.  To learn more about Military MOJO and upcoming events, visit http://www.militarymojo.org.

Op/Ed piece in the Union Tribune: Helping veterans transition into life sciences careers

I was fortunate to have an op/ed piece published in yesterday’s San Diego Union Tribune about helping veterans make the transition to life sciences careers, and I have reposted it below.  You can also read it here.

A healthy economy should provide opportunities for workers at all skill levels and at all stages of career development.

This includes the brave men and women of the military who have sacrificed so much for this country over more than a decade of war and global conflict.

American industry values workers who are at their best under pressure. These are the kind of people who can help a company grow and succeed.

And with the population of U.S. military veterans expected to rise by another 1 million over the next several years, we have a great asset before us ready to be unlocked to benefit the American economy.

This is particularly important in San Diego, one of the largest military cities in the United States — and the number one destination for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately the transition back to civilian life can be difficult — particularly when it comes to re-entering the workforce, or in some cases entering it for the first time. Some veterans experience difficulty translating their military experience to civilian work. Others need guidance on job search skills like creating a resume and being prepared for interviews.

The good news: some of our fastest growing industries are in the best position to use the skills of returning military veterans. This includes the medical technology and biotechnology fields — both of which are experiencing spectacular growth and demand for new workers. One newly expanded initiative, called the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP), was created specifically to connect companies in these industries with the workforce of military veterans.

MVP provides returning veterans with the resources, skills and confidence they need to achieve fulfilling careers in these fields, while also ensuring that potential employers have a diverse pool of talented employees from which to hire. These jobs — such as project managers, supply chain experts and human resources managers — don’t require an advanced STEM degree. But they do require a strong work ethic. People who can be part of a team, or lead one. People who make good decisions, while also being flexible. And people who — under some of the most difficult conditions you could imagine — are effective in new and different environments.

These qualities describe the successful American veteran.

In San Diego more than 240,000 veterans make up 13 percent of the city’s population. Close to 30,000 of them served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Veterans in San Diego — compared to the national average — also generally attain a higher level of education. A full 35 percent of San Diego area veterans hold a bachelor’s degree or higher; and 43 percent have at least some college experience or an associate degree.

As a veteran who has served overseas in a number of conflicts — including multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — I understand the unique challenges that accompany the transition back to civilian life. These challenges are even more pronounced for younger veterans, many who have served this country in uniform for their entire adult lives and are accustomed to the formal, hierarchical structure of the military.

I’ve been at the receiving end of opportunities that have made it easier to successfully transition back to the civilian workforce. MVP seeks to ensure that returning military veterans have those same opportunities.

In San Diego on Saturday, MVP and Illumina will conduct a daylong, free event that includes seminars, working groups, and networking for mentors and veterans.

Since its inception in 2010, MVP has grown to include more than 150 veterans and 80 mentors through a program of active mentorship, job search training, and industry specific education.

In 2013 MVP’s founders recognized that it had the potential to grow from a regional initiative to a much larger national effort. As a result, MVP has now become an independent nonprofit entity charged with bringing 5,000 veterans into the life sciences industry by 2018, and 1,000 veterans per year after that — all funded by participating companies in the industry and at no cost to veterans.

More companies need to join this initiative. And other industries need to follow suit and begin making similar connections with the veteran workforce.

Our economy will be stronger as we bring more veterans into the fold. Let’s give them that opportunity.

Mike Grice, chief operating officer of the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (www.mvpvets.org)

Great advice from Nurse Deb

Despite the departure of Eric Shinsheki from the Department of Veterans Affairs not everything at the VA is a shambles.  I have been writing about my experiences with military transition for about three years now, and no small part of my journey passed through VA country.  The path was sometimes vague and there were plenty of forks in the road, but the folks at the VA were there to make sure that I made it all the way to the end, and now I am a fully vested constituent of organization.

There are tens of thousands of dedicated professionals who work at the VA, and unlike what you hear on the news every day they have their heads down as they do the best jobs that they possibly can.  Nurse Deb, is a veteran who now works for the VA, is one of those professionals and she provides some very valuable insights into how to be more successful as you navigate your way through the VA disability claim process.  It is a very rocky and often confusing process, but if you do your part (as she describes below) you can straighten out the road and avoid the potholes.  She posted this on “Orders to Nowhere” last week:

Accidentally found your page and I was pretty impressed with the information given and how accurate it is. Thumbs up sir!

Without a ton of people replying to me here, I currently work at a very large VA in Southern California as a RN within the ER. I am also a US Army veteran (enlisted) then obtained my commission 9 years later (gulp) as a nurse to bring our guys home if needed, so technically- I’m still in (USAR). I have to tell you, the tedious process of government paperwork is overwhelming regardless of what agency it is. I agree with you sir, that the process of filing a VA disability claim isn’t difficult, however………..Step 1 is get your paperwork in order.

Taking the time to read your blog was informative and will help many veterans who are lucky to find it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had veterans/patients come to the ER after serving years ago saying, “I never knew I had benefits”. It’s sad, personally I had no clue either. I was out 9 years before I knew I was eligible (thanks the ETS crew at Ft Benning for dropping that ball in 1992!).

Needless to say, if anyone reads this, educate all members who are still serving to “make a copy (or 2 or 3) of ALL your medical records, including copies of all hard disc/films of any or all xray reports” Most people do not know, there are two parts to any xray/radiology exam #1 the actual visual photo/film and #2 the “FINAL READ” do not get the preliminary (even though most times it doesn’t change). Also, if you ever have any type of surgery (in the operating room) either outpatient or inpatient, there is always a History & Physical done before by the doctor doing the procedure (basically saying why you need that operation) and there will always be the Operating/surgical/procedure note itself. This is important to identify where they opened you up (scars) what they found, etc….it’s helpful and most of the time, these two forms do not make it into your regular medical records, they are specific to your “Inpatient chart” . The medical records you carry around when PCS’ing are your “Outpatient” medical records.

For my husband who serves in the Navy and when he is out to sea, medical staff on the ship may use hard copy documents or the old charting system, not computerized. GET A COPY! These get lost and will never be found, I promise you-I was a medic, we lost tons without trying.
He also had to go to several civilian physicians for an injury the military couldn’t repair to his neck. Trust me when I tell you, he’s set for when he get’s out. I’ve been keeping a hard copy medical record of “Everything”.
Most charting systems in the military as of today are computerized, however, there has been documented evidence that the storage capabilities for massive amounts of records are being challenged. So again……..KEEP A HARD COPY!
Also, I was guilty of keeping my hard copy medical records from active duty (putting up hands here-I won’t even try to deny it) but, if you have them UNCLE SAM does not. Make a few copies (2-3) and be prepared to turn in your hard copies when you turn in your claim.
You can Google how to specifically write each item you feel you should be compensated for. Since I work for the VA, I had to endure TWO separate C&P physicals because I work for the VA and the medical doctor examining me could not access the records to support my claims because as an employee, my records are secured at a level 7. No one without proper security access can access them. It was a pain, so a month later, I was at a separate C&P (civilian) physical yet again. When I went to the regional office to find out what was going on with my claim, no one could access my file because again…….I was a VA employee, only a supervisor could open it to finally tell me……..I need to re-do some paperwork so I’ll keep you informed if you want.

With all the bad press the VA is receiving at this time I can only imagine how many veterans don’t even want the headache of long wait times. I know that many will feel the Government is turning their back and saying, “thanks for your service but go away we’re too busy to care” HOWEVER, on the contrary, most employee’s of the VA system are veterans themselves. I do not care how many patients come to the ER because they cannot get into their doctor, I don’t care if their appointment is months away, COME if you need us, don’t wait. I will never turn my back on a fellow veteran, I’ve walked and called offices for patients, given them the email and phone number to the Director when all resources have failed to demand in writing an appointment.

I serve because I care, I work at the VA because I still care, I’m paying it forward whenever I can.

🙂 Nurse Deb