MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP) and Cyberonics Announce Veteran and Transitioning Military Re-careering Workshop

 

MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program: Recareering transitioning military and veterans into compelling careers in the life sciences. (PRNewsFoto/MedTech BioTech Veterans Program)    

 

Continuing the successful series of nationwide recareering workshops, the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (www.mvpvets.org) is announcing the seventh Veteran and Transitioning Military Recareering event for 2014.  The program, which is free for veterans and those transitioning from the military, helps veterans find careers in life sciences companies, is partnering with Cyberonics in Houston to host 10 veterans in a daylong seminar which will provide insights into the Medical Device industry, partnering with mentors, a job skills workshop, and interaction with hiring managers and Human Resources professionals from the the company.  The company and the industry have many positions in areas such as supply chain, supervision, management, human resources, and other functional areas that they are eager to fill with veterans and those transitioning from the military.

A press release about the event follows:

HOUSTON, Oct. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On November 19, 2014, Houston, TX-based Cyberonics, Inc. (NASDAQ:CYBX; www.cyberonics.com) will partner with the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (www.mvpvets.org) to conduct a re-careering event for transitioning military and veterans in south Texas.

Military personnel in transition from service and honorably discharged veterans are invited to apply for the opportunity to participate in this free one-day seminar that will include active one-on-one mentoring, resume building and personal engagement with hiring managers seeking to employ program participants.

The event brings veterans and transitioning military together with mentors from the medical technology industry while they participate in active sessions that include resume review and refinement, job interview training and rehearsals, creating a professional online presence in social media, and networking.  Cyberonics will also consider participants for internship opportunities.

Space is limited, and pre-registration is required to ensure that participants get a seat at the event.

Details:

Date:  November 19, 2014

Time:  8:00 a.m.4:30 p.m.

Location:  Cyberonics Building, 100 Cyberonics Blvd., Houston, TX 77058

Cost:  There is no cost for veterans and transitioning military.  All materials, breakfast, lunch, and parking are provided free of charge.

Registration:  Transitioning military and veterans interested in participating in the program can register at the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program website (http://www.mvpvets.org/mvpvets-event-interest-form).  Pre-registration is required, and space is limited to 10 participants.

About Cyberonics:

Cyberonics is a medical technology company with core expertise in neuromodulation.  The company developed and markets the Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy System, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression.  The VNS Therapy System uses a surgically implanted medical device that delivers pulsed electrical signals to the vagus nerve.  Cyberonics markets the VNS Therapy System in selected markets worldwide.

About the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP):

The MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program is a nonprofit organization with the mission to bring 5,000 veterans and transitioning military into the Life Sciences by 2018.  A fiscally sponsored 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, MVP brings active training and mentorship together with an integrated collaborative online portal and eLearning from the Life Collaborative in a concerted effort to help those who have served the country in uniform re-career into meaningful and impactful careers in the MedTech, BioTech, Pharmaceutical, BioFuels, and Wireless Medical Technology sectors.

If you are in the Houston area and would like to participate, please do sign up!

 

Advertisements

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!

 

A truly insightful look into the 1st, 2d, and 3d order effects of breaking the military retirement promise

This is a repost of Tony Carr’s exceptional piece on the effects, both intended and unintended, of breaking the nation’s commitment to its military retirees.  The implications of changing the COLA for the military retirement plan go infinitely deeper than simply saving the taxpayer six billion dollars.  In my humble opinion this article is the best yet written on the COLA debate, and you can go to the original posting at John Q. Public.

Risk and Promise: Strategic Advice for Congress

Since 1973, America has relied on volunteers to fight its wars, and they have relied on America to take care of them when the fighting is over.

Led by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray but abetted by Barack Obama, Congress recently gambled with our nation’s future for an extremely modest short-term gain. In doing so, it was given aid and comfort by knowledge-starved pundits, axe-grinding editorial boards, and self-anointed armchair analysts everywhere, as it  left the military and veteran community standing with their jaws on the ground in despairing disbelief.  Exploiting pressure to strike a budget compromise, Ryan and Murray entered into an unholy alliance to reduce veteran pensions – including those already vested under previous covenants – by an average of $84,000 to $120,000.  They obscured this act, as often happens when attempting to mislead, by employing complex-sounding budget doublespeak to minimize the magnitude of the associated moral breach as well as the consequences to veterans and families.  In a way, this debacle can be seen as part of our nation’s continual inability to comprehend and bear the costs of being a global superpower with quasi-imperial interests secured by less than one-half of one percent of its population.  But the particulars in this case suggest something more disturbing lurking behind the standard wallet-grabbing Congressional milieu: a startling absence of strategic deliberation.  When such a deficit impairs elected leaders responsible for national security, potentially grave consequences attend.

Good strategists always ask of any potential course of action two key questions.  First, what will this do for us?  And second, what will this do to us?  Given the dearth of statesmanly impulse at the national level in modern America, it is perhaps unsurprising that in crafting the recent budget, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray asked only the former question, leaving the latter for others to worry about.

The provision at issue retroactively renegotiated the deferred compensation of more than two million military veterans – including tens of thousands still serving in harm’s way — who did their duty in reliance on promises around which they structured their lives. The vast majority of these veterans endured historically abusive operational tempos. Most will carry with them the invisible scars of war for the rest of their lives, running up against psychological limits that in subtle but consequential ways – ways no one who hasn’t served could possibly understand even if veterans were immodest enough to attempt explanation.

Many transitioned out of military service (or will in the future) to find that their skills and capabilities did not translate well in the private sector.  This can slow earnings growth, making an earned military pension critical during the adaptation to civilian life in a down economy.  Those retirees fortunate enough to preserve their marriages have typically dragged spouses through a dozen or so relocations, never giving them a chance to establish professional footing.  This is key, not just in terms of the sacrifices rendered by military families, but in economic terms; in modern America, two incomes are now required to generate the same standard of living one income provided thirty years ago, and this is often beyond the reach of retired military families who have led very abnormal lives prior to retirement.

The All-Volunteer Force relies heavily on the 17% of its members who choose to serve for a career, most of whom are NCOs.

The shorthand employed by Ryan to sell his beloved pension cut envisions healthy, well-adjusted, fattened mercenaries stepping into corporate America to collect millions during the balance of their working years.  How he arrived at this vision boggles the imagination; most retirees struggle to integrate into a new workplace with skills that don’t directly translate while trying to keep pace with competitors roughly half their age.  73% of retirees are noncommissioned officers whose pensions are barely sufficient to keep them above the poverty line.  As a rule of thumb, these people are figures of sympathy rather than valid targets of the socialistic “they don’t need it anyway” notion behind Ryan’s sales pitch.

Ryan and Murray obviously weren’t thinking about these issues.  They also weren’t thinking about the fact that every veteran who has retired since the year 2000 made a decision upon reaching 15 years of service: either turn down a $30,000 career status bonus and retain an inflation-protected pension upon reaching retirement, or accept the bonus and also accept a 1% annual reduction in cost-of-living adjustment with a one-time “catch-up” at age 62.  Most veterans chose inflation protection, which ends up being worth far more in most calculations than the bonus. In summarily removing inflation protection from all military pensions, Congress breached the contract formed with those who turned down the 15-year bonus.  It did this without holding a single committee meeting or public hearing. In a clear signal it wasn’t thinking strategically, Congress did this in a back room not populated by the joint chiefs, who claim to have been surprised by the provision altogether.

But this all makes sense if Ryan and Murray were only asking “what will this do for us?” And it did a couple of things.  First, it bought them the public acquiescence of the service chiefs, who are desperate for funds given the limits of sequestration imposed without mission relief.  Their only option to preclude mission failure is to hold open the gate while others raid the pensions of the very people whose interests they’re charged to safeguard.  This perversely explains why they said nothing as a provision impacting the career decisions of every active duty and retired member of the military sailed through uncontested.

But what the provision really did for those who championed it was to lay the groundwork for a new funding stream to perpetuate pork barrel spending.  If this provision sticks, Congress will have retroactively renegotiated the compensation contracts of more than two million war veterans during a time of war.  If a promise of this magnitude can be rendered so cheap with so little effort, nothing is sacred. This will create broad legitimacy for further pension and benefit raiding, making this just the first of many breached promises and a lucrative source of cash by which Congress can purchase electoral advantage.  It does this by funding needless bases and infrastructure (to supply jobs in their districts), by acquiring and continuing to operate needless weapons (again, jobs), and by continuing to support the nation’s promiscuous involvement in wars of choice that are a boon for defense contractors and war profiteers . . . and therefore, a steady source of votes and contributions.  Footnote: this is an election year.

The Ryan-Murray pension-raid was not a “mistake” as some have claimed and as I’ve suggested elsewhere is a fallacious notion.  It was a calculated breach of the faith for short-term political advantage.  Ryan, Murray, Obama, Hagel, and the rest of those who pushed and supported this knew they were acting immorally, but were willing to accept doing so out of a rational calculation of what it would do for them.  What they didn’t ask is what it might do to them . . . or more importantly, what it might do to us, the nation they claim to lead.

In the modern age, politicians tend to be tacticians rather than strategists.  They’re interested in winning a series of short-term battles that supply them with talking points for use in the next election.  This is so because getting elected has replaced principled leadership as the contemporary political raison d’etre.  By extension, raising campaign funds has come to dominate the activity of elected representatives, displacing time and focus essential to strategic reflection. But in failing to take a sober, adult look at the future when making decisions, politicians assume huge risks on the behalf of the nation as they collect rewards that fall narrowly to them.  When it comes to the legal heist recently carried out against veteran pensions, the risks are enormous.

Alienating today’s warriors risks destroying the willingness of others to step forward in the future.  Military service is very much a family business; it’s difficult to find an active member who isn’t acting on the example of a relative or ancestor. Military service immerses individual warriors in a system of values rooted in honor, trust, and commitment.  This makes them particularly sensitive to moral compromises.  Ordinarily content to serve with quiet obedience, military members will not hesitate to sound off when they see an obvious moral wrong perpetrated (and woe betide us as a country if ever they became blithely accepting of such wrongs).  They’ve shown in the past few weeks that attempts to breach trust with them will not go unnoticed or unmarked.  The implication for politicians is clear: when you break a promise, you’re tampering with the delicate formula upon which the strength and vitality of the all-volunteer force is based.  The consequences to future American security could be severe, and should be studied carefully before risking even the perception of a moral breach.  Pension formulas were last disturbed in the mid-1990s, creating a retention crisis that sent the joint chiefs panicking to the Hill, where they persuaded Congress to restore a 50 percent, inflation-adjusted retirement package.  All we’ve done since then is ask even more of our volunteers, and nothing suggests they are today any less sensitive to these kinds of budgetary shenanigans.

Politicians claim a choice between readiness and personnel funding, but this is a false choice. Tampering with promised pensions could fundamentally injure readiness by hurting morale and chilling volunteerism.

But there’s a deeper and more insidious risk already touched upon, and that’s the risk attendant to avoiding genuine reform of our defense institutions.  It’s true that current defense spending is unsustainable.  It’s not true that this is a result of personnel costs.  They’ve remained constant at about 25% of defense spending since 2001 (despite two manpower-intensive wars) and are down from 30% of spending since 1991.  Other elements of defense spending have grown explosively over the same period of time.  The nation has expensively fast-tracked new capabilities from scratch as a result of being caught strategically off-guard by 9/11 (this, in turn, is attributable in part to the recklessly rapid pace of intelligence downsizing in the prior decade, which afforded America reduced global awareness as the calculus of national security shifted wholesale). It has also fielded costly new weapons systems in an attempt to contend with an uncertain future, virtually all of them coming up short of expectations and over budget as a result of a dated acquisition process riddled with misplaced influence and needless red tape.  Meanwhile, unneeded bases remain open and their facilities remain operating due to Congressional obstruction, and no serious discussion concerning service roles and missions has been undertaken in nearly three decades.  As a result, the services are tripping over one another with duplicate weapons and capabilities, a bonus for defense contractors but an injury to taxpayers.

If Congress is once again permitted to step over dollars to save dimes and mask the waste lurking in defense spending, we’ll continue tracing along the path of unsustainability without addressing it.  Eventually, those masked costs will come due, and it won’t be Ryan or Murray who pay for it, but every citizen who loses security.  To be fair to some counterarguments, there is a real need to study military compensation and benefit structures and ensure they fit within our means.  But this should be forward-looking in order to keep the faith with those who already kept their end of the compensation bargain, and it should be preceded by a genuine attempt to address the structural reforms Congress is avoiding.  If Americans really want to see a drastic reduction in defense spending, they must encourage their representatives to stop obstructing a Base Realignment and Closure Commission and to charter a Roles and Missions Commission. Moreover, Congress should bind itself to the recommendations of both in order to avoid the political mischief that has characterized previous reform efforts and led to the current morass.  But even more than that, if Americans want to see drastically reduced defense spending, they should stop electing and emboldening politicians who send American troops into wars without fully advertising the costs of doing so.

This is the greatest risk of all — a risk potentially fatal to our national life.  We’ve developed a nasty habit in the modern age of waging war without paying for it, and that has set us on a long road to ruin.  We’ve yet to pay for the wars fought in the last 12 years, having pushed the costs off on future generations by borrowing against the national debt (save for the $6B pick-pocketed from those who did the fighting).  No raised taxes (in fact, tax rates are at a record low as Congressional conservatives who voted overwhelmingly to authorize wars and troop surges complain about the national debt). No war bonds. No draft.  No appeal to our richest citizens to finance an expedition.  We’ve been at war for a dozen solid years without asking Americans at-large to make a single material sacrifice. Now we turn to veterans and expect them to foot the bill.

Veterans understandably refuse to willingly do so, not only because it is unspeakably wrong for them to have been asked in the first place, but because they understand covering up the cost of war is dangerous to our way of life.  When war no longer carries even the faintest whiff of sacrifice for the vast majority of citizens, they will readily support it without rigorously considering its necessity or the manner of its execution.  This is a path to endless war, and when we have warred enough that our interests have become overextended and we’re bogged down with inescapable obligations we can no longer sustain (hints of which are noticeable already), national collapse becomes inevitable.  It’s not a new story historically, and we’re not so exceptional that we can avoid it.  Paying our veterans what we owe them is one of the ways we feel the pain of having supported going to war (and by extension, failing to prevent it), and for that reason more than any other, we must pay what we owe . . . even (and perhaps especially) if doing so feels inconvenient.

So as Congress returns to session, it seems like a good moment for some unsolicited strategic advice, even if it disturbs the self-congratulatory saccharine party Washington has undertaken in the wake of a signed budget. Congress, you can either have an honorable military, or one that accepts broken promises.  You can either have a cheap military, or the world’s best.  And you can either have an expensive but secure way of life, or something less.  Oddly, doing the morally right thing leads to the best outcome in each of these choices, proving that strategy and morality need not be misaligned. Reconciling the two is matter of considering not only what a course of action does for you, but what it does to your country.  Thinking about it this way should compel a swift amendment to restore the promises made to our veterans and their families.

Posted by Tony Carr on January 2nd, 2014.  You can view the original here.

Well said.

Great information about military health care benefits at transition

This is a repost from Jim Carman’s great synopsis of military health care availability for those going through transition (originally posted on the MOAA Linkedin group page):

 Career and Talent Management Team Leader: 703-968-6383

This week’s LinkedIn career building essay comes from Katherine Tracy, MOAA’s Deputy Director for Healthcare Programs. You’ve made the decision to transition from the military and may be wondering how this impacts your healthcare benefits. Let’s take a quick look through two lenses: military retirement eligible or not.
If you’ve not fulfilled the 20 year requirement for a military retirement, your healthcare ends on your last day of regular active duty service or in the case of an activated National Guard or reserve member and serving a period of more than 30 consecutive days of active duty in support of a contingency operation, on the last day of your transition period known as Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) which is 180-days following your separation date. The TAMP benefit also applies to active duty service members serving in support of a contingency operation separating due to:
• stop-loss,
• sole survivorship discharge, or
• agreement to become a member of the Selected Reserve of a Reserve Component the day immediately following release from regular active duty service.
Military retiree’s under age 65 can choose between a managed care option (HMO), known as Tricare Prime, or a fee for service option called Tricare Standard. The main difference between the two is cost verses choice. Tricare Prime is least costly; whereas, Tricare Standard offers the greatest choice in selecting providers. Furthermore, the Tricare Prime option is limited to those who reside within the catchment area of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF).
Tricare also comes with a pharmacy benefit delivered through three points of service listed below in the order of least to greatest out-of-pocket cost to you.
• Military Treatment Facility,
• Tricare Home Delivery Pharmacy, or
• Tricare Retail Pharmacy.
Next, the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) provides a dental option for retiree’s as well as gray-area National Guard or reserve members and their dependents. Timely enrollment, within 120-days of eligibility, ensures the full range of benefits is available immediately. Otherwise, there’s a 12-month wait-period for crowns, bridges, orthodontics and dentures.
Lastly, once retired, your Tricare catastrophic cap rises to $3,000.00/family per fiscal year. The catastrophic cap is your maximum out-of-pocket expense for Tricare covered benefits. Here, the key is Tricare covered benefits. If in doubt – ask!
This has been a whirl-wind through the healthcare benefit structure. If you need further guidance or would like to schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your particular situation in more detail, call a MOAA Benefits Counselor at 1.800.234.6622.
Finally, for those readers in career transition who have served as officers in any branch of the armed forces and are located in the greater Washington, D.C. area, The West Point Society of DC’s annual Military Officer Job Fair will be held on December 6 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Waterford Reception Center in Springfield, Virginia. For the second consecutive year, MOAA is assisting in the promotion of this job fair, which will be open to all military officers regardless of commissioning source or branch of service. There is no charge to attend and no pre-registration is required. For more details, please see http://www.wpsdc.org and follow the links to career networking night. Thanks for reading and happy holidays, Jim Carman, MOAA Transition Center Director.

Good news for Guard and reserve members about retirement

Here is a good news story about Guard and reserve retirement from the Army Times:

Senators take new crack at expanding reserve retirement credit

Good stuff.  Not all the news about military pay and benefits is bad!

Military retirement benefits and budget cuts

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced this past weekend that the service chiefs have agreed to a plan that would reign in the unprecedented expansion in servicemember’s benefits.  Not particularly surprising, really. As the wars come to an end the enticements that have been used to recruit and retain an all volunteer force become less affordable than they were before.  During the Global War on Terror, millions of young men and women entered the armed forces, and a great many of them deployed overseas to fight for the nation.

The goodwill that the nation felt towards the military, coupled with the real need for expansion, resulted in tremendous growth in terms of pay and benefits for those in uniform.  Countless millions of dollars have been spent on education, health, housing, and other benefits that were either not in existence before the wars began or grew exponentially in scope and cost.

That cost has become prohibitive, however.  In the words of General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“What we have asked these young men and women to do over the last 10 years, we can’t pay them enough.  Having said that, we also have an institution to manage.”

The chairman also pointed out the cost in real terms.  The DOD spends approximately half of its annual budget on personnel, and if things continue on as projected the cost will grow another ten percent.  It is untenable for the military to function with 60 cents from every dollar spent on the people who make up the military.

The good news, though, is that the current retirement plan will not be affected.  At least not for people in uniform currently that is.  It may very well change in the future, but it is for the moment safe from the budgetman’s axe.

At any rate, the “peace dividend” of the end of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will come at the expense of the Department of Defense.  It seems like the Joint Chiefs have finally realized the incontrovertable truth that with the end of war comes the lack of desire to pay for the military that fought it.  It is not a bad thing that the military retracts when there are no wars to fight, but the retraction must be thoughtfully done.

I just hope that those who make such decisions ensure that the military is ready for the next war.

And there is always another war.

 

 

It’s here! Orders to Nowhere is now a book!

It’s finally here!  The first edition of Orders to Nowhere is available in print.  It will be six to eight weeks before it shows up in bookstores, and a week or so before it hits Amazon.com.  If you want to avoid the wait, you can order it straight from the printer by clicking the cover:

Orders to Nowhere

Since you are a loyal reader and follower of the blog that got it all started, you can use the discount code ZVGYFQ28 and save 10% off the cover price.

Thank each and every one of you for reading and following my journey through transition!