A Project That Can Help Change the World

As mentioned in our post about Clarence, the young veteran with traumatic brain injury, DVNF is working with the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), to raise money for a new piece of equipment they really need.

Please view this presentation for more information on the amazing work that Dr. Rory Cooper and his team at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories are doing for disabled veterans.

This is your opportunity to contribute to a project that not only helps disabled veterans, but also empowers them, employs them, and allows them to advocate for others with disabilities!

 

As a reminder, if you donate to this project, every single penny you donate goes directly to purchase this equipment for HERL! Please share this post on your social media pages so we can get the word out!

 

An Inspirational Visit to a New England Veterans Shelter

Last week, the staff of Disabled Veterans National Foundation had the opportunity to go to Boston and visit the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). As long time partners, DVNF and NECHV have teamed up to help hundreds of veterans in need in the New England area.

DVNF recently supplied the shelter with many items such as clothing, snack food, soap, lotion and many other needed items. These items are crucial to the wellbeing of these veterans, as well as to the success of the center.

NECHV is a wonderful organization that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. Many of these veterans have endured difficult post-military lives coping with poverty, family issues, mental health problems and substance abuse. Among the veterans we visited, a few were eager to talk with DVNF.

Grady (left) continues to help fellow veterans in need.

Grady (left) continues to help fellow veterans in need.

Grady, an Army veteran and former resident of the shelter, is now an employee, giving back to the veterans that he can empathize with.  A big part of Grady’s job is to make sure that the veterans at the center fully utilize the clothing store*, which DVNF has helped to keep stocked over the years.

(*It should be noted that the “clothing store” is what NECHV calls their supply of items that are given to the veterans at the shelter.)

“When veterans walk into the store, they are always grateful for the items that DVNF has been able to send,” Grady told us. “Without these items, many of them would not have clothes to wear. No veteran should be left behind.”

Grady also said that he believes every veteran should have a place to rest his head at night and is thankful that he has the opportunity to show veterans that there is a safe place for them.

Another veteran we spoke with was Jamie. Jamie is an honorably discharged U.S Navy Veteran who is currently a resident at NECHV. Throughout the last couple of years he has overcome many obstacles such as two surgeries, a divorce and alcohol addiction. When asked about his time at the center, he replied, “The center has created a sparkle in my heart. When I came in, I knew something special was here.”

DVNF program coordinator, Ashley poses for a picture with Jamie (right).

DVNF program coordinator, Ashley poses for a picture with Jamie (right).

During his stay at the center, Jamie has created a job for himself. He works in the shelter’s clothing store and sorts the items that are delivered. When he is in the clothing store, he said that he gets to see the expressions on other veterans’ faces, and that they are so thankful for the items DVNF sent.  Not only was he appreciative of the items DVNF was able to send, but was also happy we were able to come to the center and speak with everyone.

One of the last veterans we spoke with was Richard. Richard is an honorably discharged Vietnam veteran and is a current resident at the Center. After serving in the Vietnam War Richard mentioned that he provided services to help other veterans, such as working with local offices.

Ashley talks with Richard (right), a Vietnam Veteran.

Ashley talks with Richard (right), a Vietnam Veteran.

Richard also expressed his gratitude for the items that DVNF has been able to send. He told us that when he shops at the Center’s store, everyone is so excited about the items and it gives veterans a boost of self-esteem.

These are just a few of the great people we were able to speak with at NECHV. Understandably, there were many more veterans who were not as comfortable with us telling their stories as Grady, Jamie and Richard. These individuals have led difficult lives. It  is hard to really understand unless you have experienced it.

When you meet veterans like Grady, everyone should take comfort in knowing that this individual–once a soldier, turned homeless–was able to overcome the greatest of odds. He could have left the shelter and moved on with his life, but instead, he chose to make a living serving the people whose difficulties he understands.

Though DVNF is always committed to serving veterans, opportunities like these, to spend time in a veteran’s world and hear of his triumphs and tragedies, are truly humbling experiences.

This is a great example that shows how your support can be paid forward exponentially!

Government Shutdown: Which VA Services Will Be Affected?

There is remaining doubt and uncertainty on whether or not a government shutdown will take place. While negotiations are ongoing, it is important to expect a shutdown to occur. If you are a veteran and utilize the services of the Department of Veterans Affairs, make sure that you know how a shutdown might affect you.

Below is a list of the services that could be affected, as well as services that will likely remain.

VA services that will be affected by a shutdown:

1. VBA Education Call Center suspended1-888-442-4551

2. Inspector General Hotline suspended 1-800-488-8244

3. Consumer Affairs (consumeraffairs@va.gov; VA’s home page “Contact Us” function and 202-461-7402 will be suspended)

4. Congressional Liaison Veterans queries suspended

5. Human Resources (for Veteran job applicants) suspended

In addition, these services will likely be affected:

  • VBA Regional Offices public contact services will not be available
  • No decisions on claims appeals or motions will be issued by the Board of Veterans Appeals
  • Recruiting and hiring of Veteran job applicants will cease

• VetSuccess on Campus suspended

• Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Counseling will be limited

 

Services that will not be affected:

All VA medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational, including:

1. Inpatient Care

2. Outpatient Care

3. Prescriptions

4. Surgeries

5. Dental Treatment

6. Extended Care

7. Mental Health Care

8. Nursing Home Care

9. Special Health Care Services for Women Veterans

10. Vet Centers

These services will not be affected either:

• Military Sexual Trauma Counseling

• Readjustment Counseling Services (Vet Centers)

• Veterans Crisis Line

• Education Benefit Claims Processing and Payments

Claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted

DVNF will keep you posted on the progress of the budget negotiations.

Veteran Stories- Renita, U.S. Navy

Renita's Story

Renita, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, recently found herself in a sudden financial predicament. This mother of 2 made a decision to go back to school this year, taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits available to her.

A major part of the GI Bill is that the VA pays a monthly stipend for veterans in school, called the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). As part of the program Renita was taking, she had the chance to do an externship, set to start April 1.

Unfortunately, the externship site was not quite ready, and did not begin until mid-May. Therefore, she would not receive the stipend she was truly dependent on during school. With her May stipend having been cut in half, Renita ended up finding part-time work – but was still going to be short on her rent.

When she applied for DVNF’s GPS (Grants to Provide Stability) Home program, she explained that she had done all she could, but could not find help for this temporary setback.

When DVNF approved her grant, she said, “The GPS Home grant has prevented my family and me from being homeless with nowhere to go. I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity. Now, we are back on track and are able to keep a roof over our heads.”

Temporary financial problems happen unexpectedly. We can’t help every veteran, but we certainly wish we could. DVNF depends on people just like you to lend your support  to our mission.  With a donation, you could save a veteran like Renita from homelessness.

Veteran Unemployment Numbers Improving!

Reasons to Hire a Vet

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its June unemployment numbers. As you may be aware, jobless numbers have been slowly, but steadily, decreasing over the last couple of years. What you may not know is that the unemployment rate for veterans has been much higher than the national average.

Not anymore. It is very encouraging to see the continued progress that has been made on the veteran job front. The overall unemployment rate for veterans currently hovers around 6.3 percent, which is down from 6.6 percent in May!

This number is down over a whole point from June of 2012, which is very good news. Gulf War Era-II veterans, a demographic that has been hit the hardest by the recession, has a current unemployment rate of 7.2 percent—lower than the national average, and an astonishing 2.3 percentage points below June of 2012!

Why is the veteran unemployment trend improving so much? The VA believes much of it has to do with their programs such as Veteran Retraining and Assistance program (VRAP), and initiatives such as Hiring Our Heroes.

DVNF agrees.

Another big part of it is likely the collective agreement of the general public that no matter the issues that we as civilians might be facing, those who have served our country are anything but “average.” Veteran unemployment should never exceed the national average, because veterans—simply put—are exceptional.

There has been a national effort to dispel the erroneous assumptions of veterans returning from combat. Many employers (or at least the smart ones) see the value of hiring veterans. They are incredibly disciplined and hard working. In addition, many nonprofit groups and large corporations have created targeted programs and hiring initiatives.

Though there is much work still to be done, we are uplifted by the improvement. Thousands more veterans have been discovered as the outstanding employees they are. It can’t stay a secret much longer!

DVNF Announces New Employment Webinar, Featuring Ted Daywalt

DVNF is pleased to announce its next veterans’ employment webinar! The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 11th at 1PM Eastern. Our speaker for this webinar will be our good friend, Ted Daywalt, the CEO of VetJobs.com. It is a free webinar, and is open to all veterans and veteran employment counselors.

Mr. Daywalt’s topics of discussion for the webinar will be: Types of jobs best suited for veterans and who is hiring veterans right now. These topics were chosen by veterans and veteran employment counselors in a recent employment webinar survey conducted by DVNF.

Mr. Daywalt is published and is an in demand speaker for various business organizations, government agencies and universities, speaking on recruiting and retention, the Internet, educational and economic trends, military and veterans issues. Mr. Daywalt regularly works with congressional committees on veteran and economic issues and has been appointed to many government agency review committees regarding military/veteran, employment and economic issues. DVNF is thrilled to have an accomplished expert in veteran employment to come speak for this webinar, so don’t miss it! Sign up today.

Military Service=Resume Booster?

As mentioned in a previous post, DVNF hosted a webinar for veterans in search of employment. Our speaker, Christopher Kerney, discussed the many different ways that military experience can actually give a veteran a leg up on the competition.

A problem that so many veterans have is with the wording of their resume. When using military-specific terms, it often tends to go right past the HR manager. Kerney mentioned that around 48% of hiring managers have a difficult time understanding military hierarchy. He also said that when a veteran is interviewing for a position, there is a common (and unfair) preconceived notion held by hiring managers that the veteran will have issues that affect work performance, such as PTSD or active duty recall. While these instances certainly seem to put you at a disadvantage, it is your job as a veteran to sell yourself and prove to the interviewer that you are more than qualified for the position!

Kerney stated that there is a basic list of items that recruiters look for. There are ways to market yourself and check off all of the items on that list.

  1. Self-confidence- Along with self-confidence, you must be able to show that you are mature and willing to accept responsibility.
  2. Leadership
  3. Ability to take initiative
  4. Adaptability and creativity
  5. Positive attitude
  6. Sense of humor
  7. Organization- the ability to balance personal life and work effectively.

All of the items on this list should be inherently ingrained within you from your military service. All of these items are vital for service members, and undoubtedly carry on past your term of active duty. Now, all that is necessary is to use these characteristics to your advantage on your resume and in interviews.

Though many roles in the military won’t directly translate into the civilian world, the intangibles that were acquired in the military absolutely will. For instance, if you were a Marine sniper, you will hopefully not be using that skill in an office setting! However, you probably did lead small teams to navigate your way through high pressure situations, which can tell the hiring manager a lot about your courage, leadership skills and ability to work under pressure.

Other intangibles earned in the military that will likely be unmatched by any civilian: your organizational skills and your integrity. The military teaches these things from your first day in basic and they are carried on throughout your lifetime. And you better believe that they are important in the workplace!

If you are thinking to yourself that you have demonstrated all these characteristics, but still can’t find a job, then there are some additional steps that could benefit you. While there are many skills taught in the military, unfortunately you are still going to need some valuable work experience in the type of job that you are pursuing. For example, if you are applying for a job as an analyst with a company, they will likely choose a candidate who has been employed in a related position with a couple years of experience. Though you can undoubtedly do the job, there are still things you can learn in an office setting that will better prepare you for a career. Internships, while low-paying (or no-paying!), are very useful for your portfolio. They are a great way to earn valuable experience, prove yourself, and get a great reference for future opportunities.

If you are a veteran in search of some more useful information on finding a job, please visit the archived webinar section of our website!