Veteran Transition

Busting 12 Military Benefit Myths for US Vets

Myth: Don’t know what to believe about transition assistance, Veterans Affairs benefits and entitlements for vets? Read through the myths below to reveal the true story.

Myth #1: After I return from Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom, I need to have my dental work (as part of my VA benefit) completed before the end of the 180-day period.

The Truth: The 180-day period refers to enrolling in the VA and making the dental appointment within 180 days of the Release From Active-Duty date. On the other hand, you are not required to have all of your dental work completed before 180 days.

Myth #2: If I receive disability compensation from the VA, I will be discharged from the National Guard.

The Truth: You can be a traditional National Guard member and receive VA disability compensation. However, you cannot receive VA compensation for the same time period that you receive military pay. For typical traditional Guard members, this means 63 days of military pay (48 unit training assemblies and 15 annual trainings). Any Active-Duty Operational Support Guard program, readiness management assembly, etc. counts as military pay as well. If you are Active Guard Reserve or mobilized, you will be receiving military pay 24/7. And must stop VA compensation immediately, or you will become indebted to the federal government.

Myth #3: I am receiving 40 percent disability compensation from the VA. I have heard that I will be discharged if I am receiving more than 30 percent.

The Truth: Although there is something in the enlistment contract about 30%, that does not apply to you because you are not enlisting. The percentage of disability compensation from the VA does not affect your membership in the National Guard. However, you must pass the physical examination for the NG – “fitness for duty exam or ability to perform your duty” – this is what will determine if you are retainable. And always record accurate information on the Annual Medical Certification. There is a block that asks if you are receiving disability compensation from Social Security, VA, Workers Comp, etc. These are government documents and to give an untrue answer is deemed as committing fraud and then neither the Department of Defense nor VA is going to be chomping at the bit to take care of you. (continue reading)

US VA eyes more focused employment help with future education, benefits efforts for vets

vets education GI Bill

There were recent reforms to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. There is a systematic effort to broaden the bill, i.e. the eligibility for both what individuals (including vets) and what types of education opportunities it covers.

But the head of Veterans Affairs’ Education Service service said the future of the benefit may be focused on narrowing down some of those options, based on the success of a few recent department job training programs.

“Right now, it’s just basically a free for all,” said Charmain Bogue, executive director of the agency, during a roundtable with reporters last week. “We give you all these resources [through the GI Bill] and you have to kind of figure out your own way in terms of what would be a viable career for you.

“It would be nice to be able to say, ‘These are the top five or top 10 occupations to look at, these are the types of degrees or certificates you need in this type of occupation.’ We are trying to move towards giving better information from that standpoint, so [veterans] can make better informed decisions at the end of the day.”

Best Program

In fiscal 2020, more than 875,000 individuals used GI Bill benefits for college classes, at a cost of about $11 billion. The program is among the best benefits provider for military service and is unlikely to undergo a major overhaul in coming years, given its high usage rates.

But Veterans Affairs officials have seen increasing popularity in recent years with more targeted job training programs, most prominently the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) for vets.

That program ran out of its annual allotment of $30 million last week, a month and a half before the end of the fiscal year. Department officials have asked Congress to consider expanding the two-year-old pilot program into a $125 million permanent offering. (continue reading)

Air Force Veteran Paranteau: “How My Military Experience Shaped Me To Be A Leader”

air force veteran transition

This is the success and transition story of Air Force Veteran Joe Paranteau . As a U.S. Air Force veteran, he is committed to veteran’s issues. He supports causes to end child trafficking and exploitation.

From the foot soldiers of the Roman Empire and Genghis Khan’s cavalry to today’s military, the contributions and leadership of people in uniform have stood the test of time.

I spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve and the leadership lessons I learned have lasted a lifetime. I often rely on my military leadership lessons to lead sales and business teams today.

Here are a few of the most enduring lessons I learned. Whether you have served or not, you can take some of these golden nuggets and apply them to your business:

It’s Not About “You.” It’s About “Us”

The moment enlisted or officers start their initial training – the core value is the same. No one person is greater than the team. If you are a lone wolf, you won’t go far. From the minute your service begins, you learn that the sum is more significant than its parts. The team is everything.

My first night in training, I watched people shed their individuality for the team’s good. Over time, our team grew stronger through proximity and shared adversity. If something wasn’t right, the whole team suffered.

I was a chow runner, which meant I ran ahead of the formation to the chow hall to sign our unit in. The fastest runners guaranteed their units ate first. I could run fast. In fact, on a good day, I could get signed in 5-10 minutes before my unit would arrive, which meant I had time for a bit of shut-eye. One day, I was fast asleep leaning against a pole. Click, click, click. I heard the boot taps of my drill instructors as they circled me. I woke up and stood at attention. They yelled at me for what seemed like hours.

I had already learned to take ultimate accountability for my actions. When asked why I was asleep at my post, I replied, “No excuse, sir.” In reality, there is no reason for an excuse, although people make thousands of them. My unit had to wait because of my actions instead of eating early. I stared into a sea of hungry, impatient eyes and realized I made a mistake that affected everyone. I learned to never repeat that mistake again! (continue reading)

More than 47,000 US troops, vets will see federal student loan fees waived

vets student loan

More than 47,000 troops and vets will see some of their federal student loan debt erased. This news comes as the new policies announced by the US Department of Education on last Friday.

“Brave men and women in uniform serving our country can now focus on doing their jobs and coming home safely, not filling out more paperwork to access their hard-earned benefits,” Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray said in a statement announcing the change.

“We will seek to reduce red tape for service members wherever possible.”

Under previously passed legislation, any troops who deployed to overseas combat zones and hostile fire areas could have interest on many federal student loans waived. The rules include student loans first paid out after Oct. 1, 2008.

For some individuals, that extra interest can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. But until now, getting those additional fees waived required lengthy paperwork proving past military service and deployments.

Government officials said fewer than 5,000 service members and vets requested the interest fees be waived in recent years.

The new policy change shifts the burden from student veterans and troops to federal officials. Under a new data sharing agreement announced by the Departments of Defense and Education, federal processors can identify federal student loan borrowers who serve on active duty by matching records to DOD’s personnel files.

“As a result, the department can automatically provide the student loan interest benefit to eligible service members, and vets” education officials said in a statement. “Today’s announcement means that service members are not required to take any action to receive the interest rate benefit.”

Loan recipients should see the changes appear automatically in their accounts. Individuals with questions can contact Department of Education officials with questions regarding the benefit. (continue reading)

Change of Mission: Army veteran advice for getting on with life after the military

army veteran transition

Kirk Windmueller is an Army veteran with over 22 years of service. He is a senior manager at Avantus Federal and a volunteer for Project Transition USA. The latter is a non-profit organization that teaches veterans how to use LinkedIn to network and find their next career. In this article he shares his insights on veteran transition.

After 21 years of service, I decided in 2017 to submit my paperwork to retire from the Army. So, with retirement orders in hand, I stumbled into the unknown. I was a Green Beret and a strategic planner at Joint Special Operations Command. Normally I’m a big fan of irony, but the fact that it was my job to plan things yet I had no plan for my own transition seemed like a form of professional malpractice. The clock was ticking with less than 12 months to my unemployment, and even though 200,000 veterans separate from the military every year, I felt like the first person to ever retire.

Transitioning from military service is a complicated process. Waiting until the last minute or treating it like a typical PCS move is not the way you want to approach one of your most important missions: getting on with the rest of your life. The consequences of blowing this off or wasting time and effort on the wrong things could lead to financial issues, loss of critical benefits, or the most widespread problem — taking a job that isn’t a good fit. This is why so many vets quit their first job in less than a year and find themselves right back where they started looking for employment again.

I’ve been retired over three years now and I am on my second career since becoming an army veteran. I’ve learned a few painful lessons along the way and I’ve worked with a non-profit called Project Transition USA to help other veterans and to pass on the things that I wish someone had told me. Here are a few of those lessons and focus areas for transition that require ample lead-time and planning.


Financial planning Make sure you have your finances in order. Try to live beneath your means and get out of as much debt as possible (particularly credit card and other high interest debt). Save some money (at least three months base pay) to get you by a few months after you separate in case your job hunt takes you longer than expected. Hold off on buying a new car or other big purchases until you have settled into your next career. (continue reading)

VFW Awards Nearly $600,000 in Aid to Student Veterans

student veterans scholarship

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce 130 student veterans will receive nearly $600,000 in scholarships for the fall 2021 semester, courtesy of the VFW “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” program.

“Whether fighting overseas or fighting a pandemic here at home, our service members and veterans sacrifice so much for our country, and the VFW is proud to work with Sport Clips to offer them this vital resource in their quest for higher education,” said VFW National Commander Fritz Mihelcic.

“The Help a Hero scholarship is a simple, yet powerful way for Sport Clips to support our nation’s heroes,” said Gordon Logan, Air Force veteran, VFW Life member and founder and chairman of Sport Clips. “These funds are often life-changing for the recipients and we are proud of the impact it has had on thousands of veterans and service members over the years.”

the Help A Hero Scholarship program began in 2014. The program awards service members and veterans with post-secondary scholarships of up to $5,000. The aim is to help them achieve their educational goals without the burden of student loan debt. To date, the Help A Hero Scholarship program has awarded more than $9.2 million in scholarships. The program included more than 2,050 service members and student veterans.

Easy Scholarships

Rashod Wynn, an active-duty service member of the U.S. Navy and 2021 fall scholarship recipient attending Liberty University,. He said, “I plan to use this scholarship to gain a bachelor’s degree in finance. In this way, I can become eligible to convert from an enlisted sailor to an officer in the U.S. Navy, functioning as a liaison and a voice for hardworking sailors who I have served alongside. After my active-duty career, I aspire to use my finance degree to serve as a financial planner. I aim to focus on under-represented, minority, and rural communities – communities that I am a product of. This scholarship will help me pursue a success that nobody in my family has achieved.”

Help A Hero scholarships are awarded twice a year. It helps cover the cost of tuition and fees of service members and veterans. It applies to the rank of E-5 and below. Scholarship applications are currently being accepted for the 2022 spring semester. Apply for a Help A Hero scholarship today.

Vets success in life after service: Drew Semper

Canadian vets transition drew semper

Many of those vets who release from the Canadian Armed Forces worry that their military skills and experience won’t count for much when they start a new, post-service career. Certainly that was on the mind of Reserve Sergeant Drew Semper. But after releasing from the Royal Canadian Air Force as an avionics technician, he grew his skillset and is now an electrician’s apprentice in the private sector.

Drawing from his own experience, he has some advice for current members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) approaching release from service.

Ambition to serve

Drew Semper always knew he wanted to serve in the Air Force. Or nearly always.

From Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Drew joined the Air Cadets at the age of 12. In high school, he took a semester co-op program with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment of the primary reserves. This program not only gave him basic training, but also a number of high school credits.

In 1996, he transferred to the regular Royal Canadian Air Force, where he trained in avionics.

“Avionics covers all the electronics in an aircraft, from communication to radar, weapons guidance and everything else,” he explains.

Drew started his military career with 402 Squadron in Winnipeg, helping to maintain the Air Force’s CC/CT142 Dash 8. He was then posted to the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton, which flew the CH146 Griffon helicopters. As part of this Squadron, Drew deployed to Bosnia in 2004.

From December 2008 to May 2009, Drew deployed to Afghanistan with the Griffon helicopters, and from June 2010 to March 2011, as a member of the crews that maintained and repaired Canadian CH147 Chinook helicopters. He describes his experience that year as “hot, smelly and mostly monotonous—except for the rocket attacks on the base.”

Even so, inside the base was far safer than outside. “There was one time we landed a Chinook outside the wire,” he recalls. “We landed in the middle of a ring of steel, a circle of LAVs [light armored vehicles].” (continue reading)

“Making Your Military Transition A Transformation”, a new free course for veterans

veteran transition courses for free

Making Your Military Transition A Transformation: Coursera – one of the world’s leading online learning platforms – and The United Service Organizations (USO) recently announced a specially designed course to help veterans and active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard members navigate the challenges of  transitioning from military to civilian life.

Cory Boatwright, an Air Force veteran and military transition expert teaches the course “Making Your Military Transition a Transformation”. This free and eight-week course offers actionable steps for building meaningful careers. This professional development opportunity combines Coursera’s online learning resources and the USO’s 80 years of military support experience. Additionally, Boatwright’s experience and expertise ensure that participants can succeed for post-military life.

“Making Your Military Transition a Transformation” course will be part of the USO Pathfinder® Transition Program. This will supplement existing career services like the USO Mentorship and Professional Certificate programs that are already taught by Coursera. Through the USO Pathfinder Transition Program, Transition Specialists guide participants through the process. They also develop a personalized Action Plan, and help connect them to additional resources and networks.

“This online learning opportunity is a continuation of our commitment to stand by service members from the moment they enlist to the moment they are settled back into civilian life,” said Lisa Elswick, Vice President of Transition Programs at USO. “We are proud to partner with Coursera. In this way, the military community can set and reach their personal and professional career goals.”

A Well Designed Course

Topics covered during the two-month course include analyzing personal motivations, prioritizing career pursuits. Additionally it covers creating a career journey map, avoiding common transition pitfalls, and more. Participants will engage with a variety of videos, readings, discussions, quizzes. And USO Pro Tips – key points to accelerate transformation – are also included along the way. “The lessons I teach are designed to give military community members the tools they need to recognize personal or systemic challenges, develop clear career goals, and succeed in a rapidly changing world,” said Boatwright. “Hopefully, my personal experience as an Air Force veteran, corporate leader, and now entrepreneur, will make the course both relatable and inspiring.” (continue reading)

VA job training program may be better than the GI Bill for disabled vets

vets GI Bill

Many vets use GI Bill benefits to earn a college degree each year, but thousands could benefit better by changing the well-known training program in favor of another Veterans Affairs program aimed at helping veterans with disabilities in employment, according to a study. new report released this week.

Officials from According to the Government Accountability Office, last year roughly 123,000 veterans used  Veteran Readiness and Employment program. But the program has the potential to benefit even more, if VA leaders step up efforts to promote it.

“Most school and [veterans service organization] officials we interviewed said veterans with disabilities often choose the GI Bill for education benefits because they are unaware that the VR&E program exists,” the report states

“The officials attributed this lack of awareness to VA’s relatively limited promotion of VR&E and because of the prominence of the GI Bill as an education benefit program.”

The GI Bill education program dates back almost 80 years and is among the most well-known veterans benefits in the country. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits which went into effect in 2009, veterans or eligible dependents can receive full tuition payments at state universities, plus a monthly housing stipend and other financial assistance.

According to VA statistics, about 658,000 veterans used the benefit in 2020, at a cost of about $10.1 billion.

The VR&E program had about one-fifth the enrollment and about one-tenth the price tag of the GI Bill last year. To be eligible, veterans must be at least 10-percent disabled with a service-connected injury. (continue reading)

4 Common Struggles Veterans Face In Civilian Workplaces After Transition

veterans at transition

Finding job is essential for any military personnel leaving the service as veterans at transition and entering the civilian world. But the challenges of leaving the military don’t end with joining a new company.

Veterans still have years after landing their first post-military job before they can declare that their transition was successful. Many may still have to deal with the lingering mental scars of war. The first job they get may not be the one that allows them to grow as individuals or employees.

Now, a new study suggests that what goes on in their first workplace may test their successful transition even more. Hill and Ponton, a Florida-based law firm that specializes in helping veterans, gathered data that looks at some of the results of life during that first job.

1. Veterans are twice as likely to make less than $25,000.

When compared to non-veterans in the same or similar careers, 19% of newly separated veterans made under $25,000 in their first post-military job. Civilians were only 8% likely to make so little. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this would put a family of three just above the poverty line.

One reason for this may be the service member’s focus on securing a job — any job — to have an income after leaving the military. But “any” job is never as good as the right job. Because …

2. Veteran are five times as likely to be dissatisfied with their work.

Only 2% of civilians surveyed reported getting absolutely zero satisfaction with their current job. For veterans, this number ballooned to 11%. This means of the estimated 200,000 veterans who leave the military every year, 4,000 of them find jobs that do not satisfy them. This is an especially problematic result.

Veterans who are underemployed when leaving the military are being stripped of the sense of purpose, pride and responsibility they felt while in uniform. This sudden change for the worse can cause anxiety, stress, depression and may lead even to suicide. (continue reading)