Veteran Transition

Post-9/11 Veterans can apply to become wildland firefighter

veteran fire corps for post-9-11 veterans

Post-9/11 Veterans looking for a career as a wildland firefighter can apply to the Southeast Conservation Corps Veterans Fire Corps program.

Squads work on fire mitigation and fuels reduction projects on public lands, giving back to the surrounding communities. Veterans must be flexible, adaptable and able to work in a fluid, changing work environment.

The program is open to Veterans aged 18-35 who can meet a host of qualifications. Veterans must also pass a three-mile hike with 45 pounds in 45 minutes. Training locations are in LaFayette, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Georgia program runs Jan. 10 to Sept. 30; the 14-week Tennessee program runs Jan. 10 to April 15.

Southeast Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications, which are open until December or until positions are filled.

Veteran goes from front lines of Syria to front lines of fire

Army Veteran Aaron Conner is a post-9/11 Veteran who took advantage of the program. He served as a field artillery forward observer in the North Carolina National Guard. He was on a deployment to Syria in 2020 when a friend suggested he look into the program.

“I had known a little bit about the job to intrigue me,” Conner said. “The appeal of adventure, danger, hard work and on-the-road lifestyle appealed to me. I knew I would be lost without a purpose once I got out.”

Conner started out in Georgia in the classroom setting, then traveled to different states in the Southeast for prescribed burns. Soon, he found himself in Colorado, Idaho and Oregon for two weeks in each state. He immediately started putting training into action.

“I was initial attack on an engine in Oregon on the Umpqua National Forest,” he said. “There were a lot of lightning starts which grew to become the Devils Knob Complex. We were running and gunning going direct, hiking and sawing interior for hours. It was a good time.”(continue reading)

US Federal Agency threaten big fines against for-profits colleges that dupe troops, veterans

veterans for profit colleges

The US Federal Trade Commission officials are vowing to crack down on “shady” recruiting tactics used on service members and veterans by for-profit colleges with harsh new financial penalties for offenders.

On Wednesday, the commission sent notices to 70 of the largest for-profit colleges alerting them of the potential for fines of more than $43,000 per offense for unfair or misleading recruiting tactics. Officials said the move comes in response to a 70 percent increase in complaints around education and recruiting issues between 2018 and 2020.

“For too long, unscrupulous for-profit schools have preyed on students with impunity, facing no penalties when they defraud their students and drive them into debt,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement. “The FTC is resurrecting a dormant authority to deter wrongdoing and hold accountable bad actors who abuse students and taxpayers.”

Industry representatives decried the move as a baseless attack on their business model.

“The FTC announcement includes no findings of wrongdoing at any for-profit institution,” said Jason Altmire, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities. “Publicly announcing that it is sending warning letters to 70 of the largest for-profit institutions arbitrarily impugns the integrity of institutions that are in full compliance with FTC regulations.”

But commission officials in their announcement noted several recent high-profile settlements related to false claims of job placement and employment opportunities connected to for-profit degree programs. They insist the action is needed to rein in the industry and protect students, particularly service members and veterans.

“For-profit schools have had a strong incentive to enroll veterans because of the education benefits service members can use to pay for college,” the commission’s announcement stated. “This has led to aggressive targeting of servicemembers, veterans, and their families.” (continue reading)

VetsWhatsNext Gives US Servicemembers Life.After.Military

life after military

Veterans Life After Military. Bridging the disconnect between veterans and the benefits and resources available to them is vital. Walking with them through that transition as a means of reducing veteran homelessness and suicide is key to the innovative mobile app and nonprofit service started by Major Eric K. King, who understands personally what it can feel like to make that journey alone.

“After being medically retired from the military, due to injuries sustained from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), I noticed that there were not many programs or advocates in the space between transitioning military service and being introduced to all the benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” shared King, VetsWhatsNext founder.

VetsWhatsNext nonprofit corporation is an empowerment organization committed to building a bridge between the needs of servicemembers under the Department of Defense (DOD) and the opportunities and resources for veterans under the VA. “I personally could not sit and allow this to happen to another service member. VetsWhatsNext was born out of need and a sincere duty to continue serving my fellow teammates after my time was officially done,” said King.

The organization has created an innovative mobile app to assist active-duty servicemembers, veterans and their family members transition into civilian life after the military by offering access to resources, training and further education, if needed. They also have donor drives, host virtual and in-person walk/marathons and established a S2,000 Higher Education Scholarship Foundation that will award dependents of a disabled veteran with a permanent and total service-connected disability 10 percent or higher rating evaluation from the VA. (continue reading)

Source: U.S. VETERANS Magazine

Coding for Canadian Veterans: Program that retrains vets for IT jobs hopes for more Indigenous participants

Coding for Veterans

Coding for Veterans program offers Canadian veterans retraining after military service. The program is hoping to recruit more Indigenous applicants who are interested in learning coding.

Jeff Musson, the executive director of Coding for Veterans, had a tent set up in front of a Moncton legion on Thursday, trying to spread the word.

“These are close days to (National) Truth and Reconciliation Day. We really want to do outreach to those Indigenous peoples who have served in the Armed Forces. This is not only to highlight their service to Canada but also their opportunity to transition into a job in the tech sector,” he said.

Former or serving Armed Forces members accepted into the program are trained as software developers and cybersecurity professionals. These professions are for which there is a critical shortage in Canada, according to Musson.

“In Canada, there is over 147,000 IT jobs projected to go unfilled and these are good and high-paying jobs,” he explained.

Musson, who also owns an IT company, started Coding for Veterans two and a half years ago. So far, about 200 Canadian veterans have graduated. Unfortunately fewer than 10 have been from Indigenous communities and he would like to see those numbers increase.

“It is a power combination that employers are looking for in their workforce because it helps with diversity and it helps with culture within companies,” he said.

Bill Ridley-Williams, who served in the military in the 1980s, is currently enrolled in the program. He said there are Indigenous IT companies across the country trying to expand in the tech sector. (continue reading)

Atlanta educator teaches fellow vets about joys of beekeeping

vets beekeeping tim doherty

After 33 years of service, Lieutenant Colonel and an assistant principal of an Fulton School Tim Doherty has shifted his focus to agriculture, beekeeping and its therapeutic benefits for vets.

As pandemic restrictions eases, longtime educator Tim Doherty of Sandy Springs, Fulton is back in the classroom. These classes are for his fellow military veterans about the joys and therapeutic value of beekeeping.

When he’s not putting in 50 hours a week as an assistant principal at Fulton County’s Riverwood International Charter School, Doherty is plotting the post-pandemic reinvigoration of his project, Doc’s Healing Hives. He started the project in 2017. His aim is to teach other vets about the sweet rewards of beekeeping that go beyond honey and money. To date, 65 veterans have gone through his one-day or weekend classes.

Doherty knows first-hand the therapeutic value of keeping bees. He returned in 2016 from a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had a torn rotator cuff, an injured bicep, a mild traumatic brain injury, and some of the stresses that many veterans feel readjusting to civilian life. “I had struggled, and I’m still struggling, transitioning back off my deployment,” he said. “I started beekeeping for my own therapy.”

Disabled veteran Sue Davis of Traveler’s Rest, S.C., was in Doherty’s class in 2018 and considered it a game-changer. Above all, Doc’s Healing Hives really does help veterans heal by several ways. “These courses help giving us a purpose, something to care for, connection to other people, and peace,” said Davis. As a result Davis now owns seven hives of her own and manages two others for a nearby tiny-home community.

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced Doherty to stop holding his beekeeping workshops. Then he decided to use the downtime to create a learning center on a farm he owns in Morganton. He hopes to resume classes there this fall or no later than next spring.

Beekeeping for veterans is not a new idea

In fact, Doherty is hardly the first to see the potential benefits of beekeeping. As far back as 1919, the US government recommended that troops returning from World War I, especially those with disabilities, consider beekeeping as a profession. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently offers beekeeping classes at several of its medical centers as part of its recreational therapy programs. Some participating vets report that beekeeping has improved their social connections and helped decrease their depression and post-traumatic stress. (continue reading)

See programs helping veterans get started for beekeeping.

A Veteran Career Success Story: From Navy to Amazon

Turkish navy veteran success at Amazon

“My advice to all veterans, don’t be afraid to start over, be confident and aware of the extraordinary skills and experience you’ve gained in the military service.”

As, we want to share a recent success story from a Turkish Navy veteran, who challenged himself on the bumpy road of transition from military to business and joined the thousands of veterans in Amazon US:

“My name is Mehmet Dagci. I am a proud veteran. I joined Amazon as L6 Operations Manager after twenty years of service in the Navy.

navy veteran mehmet dagci
Navy Veteran Mehmet Dagci at Amazon Military

I launched LGB3, the biggest Amazon Robotics Fulfillment Center on the West Coast, ran Outbound Operation for two years and created leadership and development program, Rising Stars for area managers.

After being promoted to Senior Operations Manager, I launched the production control department that responsible for benchmarking, process engineering and capacity planning of the site, created standard work checklist for staggered break schedule to maintain production while providing safe workplace during Covid-19. Despite an unprecedented challenge, LGB3 has made 100 million fulfillment in the first six months of the Covid-19 crisis, making it the world’s number one shipper. I continued my career with Sr. Process Engineer role at Amazon Last Mile Delivery. I led the Inbound Process Engineering team that defines design standards and optimize the process for the North American region with over 350 delivery stations. Recently, I assumed the role of Amazon Robotics Field Engineering Lead to design and launch the delivery stations with AR (Amazon Robotics) technology.

Different challenges and dynamics

When I retired as a Captain from Turkish Navy, I wanted to continue to learn, grow and most importantly contribute to people’s life and the society. The biggest challenge in my veteran life was getting rid of the fear of starting over. Although I had many achievements in my active-duty military life, I was not sure if I could be successful in my veteran career within the business world with different challenges and dynamics.

Navy veteran Dagci with Turkish veterans

But as I started to prepare my resume, I quickly realized that I had strong, transferable skills. And these were proven in real-world operations and many deployments. My career from branch officer to commanding officer of frigate has been an extraordinary experience. This journey has made me a strong leader who can lead and deliver the result under the most challenging conditions. Moreover, the numerous exercises and operations under NATO command have taught me the importance of diversity and teamwork.

My advice to all veterans, don’t be afraid to start over, be confident and aware of the extraordinary skills and experience you’ve gained in the military service. If the position you want requires new skills or training, don’t get discouraged, it’s never too late to learn something new. Similar to your first deployment, the first few months in the new role can be challenging. As Franklin Roosevelt said “Smooth Sea never made skillful sailor” Be resilient!  Above all, embrace the culture, learn about your business and process, and build real trust with your team. Finally, as we all say at Amazon “work hard, have fun and make history!” 

Veteran success story from Canada: Roger Chabot

Veteran success story

Roger Chabot’s Veteran success story. Details are to military art what treads are to Leopard 2A4 tanks, according to veteran artist Sergeant (Retired) Roger Chabot. Historic details are what he has sweated over for about 50 paintings to date. Sgt (Retd) Chabot spends an average of four to five months per painting, using at least a month for initial research. “My art is not just art, but also history,” he explained.  “What makes my paintings special is my life experience.  When I paint, I paint the emotion.”

“What makes my paintings special is my life experience.  When I paint, I paint the emotion.” He responded to his feelings of guilt when not chosen for deployment as a photographer in Afghanistan with a painting called The Valley of Shadows, undertaking countless hours of research and interviews to prepare for the creation of the painting, which commemorates his fallen comrades. The painting now hangs in the main office of the National Field of Honour, a cemetery for Canadian and Allied veterans in Pointe Claire, Québec.

The painting is huge: an expanse of canvas eight feet high and twenty-four wide, bearing images of the four operational commands of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in action. Its painter is retired imagery technician Sgt. (Ret.) Roger Chabot. Entitled “Mount Everest:” it’s the biggest painting he’s ever attempted but it’s far from the only project keeping him busy in this pandemic.

Bootsteps in acrylic paint

Veteran Roger Chabot started painting with acrylics in high school, and didn’t stop when he joined the Canadian Armed Forces. “I’ve left paintings behind all over the world,” he says: “Somalia, Croatia and across Canada.”

Born in Beloeil, Quebec on Montreal’s South Shore, Roger always wanted to be a soldier. He joined Air Cadets at age 13, and at 18, went to the Montreal Recruiting Centre to sign up with the Royal 22nd Regiment, the VanDoos. In the Airborne Regiment, he deployed to missions in Cyprus and Somalia. After rebadging to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in 1994, he also served in Croatia and another tour to Kosovo in 1999. Veteran success story (continue reading)

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Farmer veteran military couple supports local US veterans and other entrepreneurs sell their goods

farmer veterans

Farmer Veterans Justin and Tara Brant held the grand opening of Black Swamp Artisanal Market Sept. 24 in downtown Dover, in a 1,200-square-foot store that had been vacant for several years.

Tara, a registered nurse, is a US Army veteran, while Justin serves in the US Navy but plans to farm full-time soon.

Farmers themselves, the Brants are leading a team of more than 25 vendors offering farm-fresh meats, eggs, butter, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, herbs, spices, flowers, honey and baked goods along with handcrafted soaps, lotions, oils, jewelry and furniture. Art and local photographs are also on sale. “The response has been wonderful,” said Tara. “We’ve received great feedback and lots of positive comments. It’s been awesome.”

The Black Swamp Artisanal Market is named after the Brants’ farm where they raise pigs and chickens near Felton, and they named their farm after the road it’s on. “Artisanal” means made in a traditional or non-mechanized way, not from a factory. The products are grown or raised locally — homemade, handcrafted.

The Brants, members of the Farmers-Veterans Coalition, display products on custom wood furniture made by Fortitude Furnishings, owned by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran in Georgetown, and that furniture is also for sale.

Amy Spampinato of Dover, who was shopping Thursday with her family, said the market “makes my life easier.”

“I always thought something like this would be a good idea with all the farmers in the area. Before, I would drive all over to buy at the different farms, but now it’s all curated in one spot,” she said.

She also likes the look of the store. “Ambience and décor matter. This is a beautiful place to shop,” Spampinato said. Hours are Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours Friday until 8 p.m. Farmer Veterans. (continue reading)

Amazon supports veterans

Amazon supports veterans

For years Amazon supported veterans in their transition. As the company reported massive growth during the pandemic years, Amazon also pledges for more support to veterans and their families via transition training and direct job opportunities.

Many veterans agonize about finding post-service employment. They worry about whether their skills are transferable. They’re concerned about adapting to a new culture after serving in a unique institution that’s a largely transparent, hierarchical organization with a well-defined purpose and strict rules.

In recent years, however, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nonprofits and private companies have worked to provide a smoother transition for those leaving the military. Amazon is doing an exceptional work on this side.

The military gives most veterans a unique set of skills. When veterans implement their work ethic, teamwork, adaptability, and resilience, this will create amazing transition results in business world. Here the role of corporate companies such as Amazon is very big. Amazon already enjoying that veteran skill set in their high-end work force., has a pivotal role in support of veterans and their families. This is creating a win-win strategy both for the company and the veterans.

Amazon currently employs more than 40,000 veterans and military spouses across multiple businesses, including Operations, Sustainability, Alexa, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). All regular full-time employees receive at least $15/hr and comprehensive benefits that begin their first day on the job, and access to programs to help them train for higher-paying jobs in robotics, cloud computing, and other in-demand fields.

“We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment.”

Jeff Bezos

Similar Principles

Amazon is really big on its leadership principles. Look at them and you will see a lot of overlap with principles common in the military:

  • Ownership– Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”
  • Insist on the Highest Standards– Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
  • Bias for Action– Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
  • Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit– Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
  • Deliver Results Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
  • Earn Trust– Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

It seems that you could see this list posted on a battalion headquarters in US Army and it wouldn’t look out of place.

Amazon military support

Let’s get into details and see some hard evidence on how does Amazon actually DO to support veterans?

  • Wounded warriors- Through Adapt@Amazon, Amazon supports military veterans who gave a lot for the country — in sacrifices they and their families will carry with them forever. Partnerships with organizations focused on helping these wounded warriors gives them training and accomodations to help their journey be a successful one. 
  • Support to Guard and Reserves– Every part-timer worries about their job security. Not only will Amazon ensure you keep your job, they will try and reinstate you at the position you would have been at had you not been placed on active duty orders. Oh, and if the pay you receive on those active duty orders is less than your Amazon pay, they will cover the difference. 
  • Spouses and dependents- Amazon also realizes that while veterans have a lot to offer, so do military spouses. That’s why they have special hiring initiatives just for spouses and dependents. These are often flexible and remote jobs that someone can take with them as they bounce around from base to base.
  • Skillbridge- The DoD Skillsbridge program is one of the best opportunities out there for those set to leave the military. Amazon is one of the companies you can work with through Hiring our Heroes and the DoD Skillsbridge program, which you can find out all about here. And to back all this up, Amazon pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years. And beyond hiring, they pledged to train 10,000 active duty service members, veterans and military spouses in cloud computing through AWS Educate memberships and offering a path to AWS certifications. That’s actual action you can see. 
  • Military Leaders Program- This program is meant to serve as a fast-track to higher levels of responsibility within Amazon. You’ll start as an Area Manager, a role well-fit for military leaders used to leading a team of people in a fast-paced and results-oriented role. Amazon loves military veterans for these roles because of the strong team-focused leadership the military develops and the bias for action that veterans have.  The idea is that you work at this role for 6 months, then move up to an operations manager, overseeing a team of area managers, for 12–18 months. You can then expect to become a senior operations manager and then, potentially, a warehouse general manager overseeing thousands of employees. 
  • Amazon Web Services – You know the “cloud” that everyone talks about and seemingly runs modern society? Yea, well, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the largest cloud service out there–running businesses and governments alike. And Amazon has ways to help you get certified on AWS. LOTS of companies want people certified at working in AWS-including the government. And according to IT Career Finder, the average starting salary for a AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate (entry-level), is $117,773.  They also have the Amazon Military Apprenticeship program. This not only gets you certified at working in these structures but even guarantees you a job on the backend. That’s a value that’s hard to beat. 
  • Student roles- If you are an MBA grad, there are also specific pathways for you to enter Amazon. But for undergraduate veterans, there are also great prospects. But even if you aren’t getting your MBA, they have internship roles for student veterans
  • Franchise opportunities- Interested in entrepreneurship? You know those blue vans that come around and deliver packages? Those are part of their network of Amazon Delivery Partners. Basically, each area is a franchise run by a business owner. Amazon actively touts on their site that they want veterans for owners. Since beginning the program in 2018, the retail giant has trained 800 entrepreneurs who have hired some 75,000 workers. A full one-third of those business owners are veterans. The investment in veterans has paid off so much for Amazon that the company wants even more veterans running Smile packages in their hometowns. It has set aside $5 million for startup costs and up to $10,000 in reimbursements for veterans looking to start their own companies.
  • Program HONOR– improves the lives of veterans and their families, especially the wounded or ill and injured and their caregivers, by solving some of the community’s toughest challenges, including veteran suicide, mental wellbeing, and homelessness.

Updates from News

Amazon made its 2016 Joining Forces pledge with the goal of hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021. Inspired after far surpassing that original goal, Amazon is now using the momentum to work toward a larger recruiting and hiring pledge.

“As a Veteran myself, I’m proud of the work that Amazon is doing to improve the lives of Veterans. We deeply care about the military community, including the families who have made such great sacrifices. Our programs are built to ease transition from military to civilian life and to continue to support veterans and their families through their most difficult challenges,”

John Quintas, Director of Global Military Affairs.

“Amazon is focused on recruiting and developing military talent with training programs specifically designed to help veterans transition into roles in the private sector,” said John Quintas, Amazon’s director of global military affairs. “We value the unique skills and experience that the military community brings—and our new hiring commitment will expand the impact that military members currently have on every single business across the company.”

The company is pledging to hire over 100,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses by 2024, building on its commitment to military families after far exceeding its pledge to hire 25,000 by 2021.

All Amazon jobs pay a starting wage of at least $15 an hour—more than twice the federal minimum wage—and all regular full-time employees enjoy healthcare from their first day of the job, a 401(k) plan with company match, up to 20 weeks of paid leave for birthing parents, access to free upskilling opportunities, and more.

And as a final word, as the numbers and statistics show clear commitment of Amazon to the military veterans, transitioning veterans might be clearly more hopeful about their business future.

From Combat To Cattle: A Veteran Army Ranger’s Story

veteran army ranger operates a waygu steak store.

Veteran Army Ranger Patrick Montgomery never could have imagined his business as an online Wagyu beef retailer would become an overnight success for their hot dogs.

When the combat veteran left the military in 2014 and went to the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Animal Science to become a veterinarian, he instead decided to buy a farm. Montgomery is now the owner and founder of KC Cattle Company of Weston, Missouri, which offers melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly marbled, hormone and antibiotic-free Wagyu steaks as well as pasture-raised Berkshire pork and even burgers, brats and hot dogs.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between agriculture and the consumer and the appeal for me was working outside and owning a ranch,” he said. “No one really knew what Wagyu was yet, and I figured I was young so I gave it a shot. One of the biggest things I noticed along the way was there were a ton of protein options for consumers to pick through, but with Wagyu, you can really tell a palatable difference. I wanted people to have a unique eating experience. It has been interesting and fun to see people learn what we are all about.”

Their hot dogs are the best

A few years ago, Food & Wine gave KC Cattle Company a top nod for its Wagyu hot dog, saying it was “basically like eating a steak in a bun.” Shortly after that article was published, they quickly sold out of every single product on the site. “That was crazy,” Montgomery reflects. “Hot dogs were our worst seller and then the article came out and it was the #1 article on Apple news. We only had about 40 packages of hot dogs in stock when the article came out and they were our worst seller. Over the next few weeks, we sold about 7,500 packages of hot dogs. We used to think we were a Wagyu steak company but now our number one seller is hot dogs [laughs]. Strips and ribeyes are next up in popularity.” (continue reading)