NATIONAL VETERANS SPECIAL EVENTS
The US Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors six national veteran events which are designed to help veterans with rehabilitation efforts and provide a national competition around sports and creative arts. The six events are: The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic; the National Disabled Veterans Tee Tournament, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the National Summer Sports Clinic, the National Veterans Golden Age Games, and the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
DVOP specialists may have an interest in these events. Some of the veterans you serve might benefit from participating in one of the events in terms of overcoming or mitigating any disability they might have. VA’s web site (https://www.va.gov/adaptivesports) emphasizes the value of the events to veterans. The web page reads, “Your courage, your determination and your drive all led you to serve America proudly. Those same characteristics will also lead to satisfaction and success in adaptive sports. Disabled Veterans of all ages and abilities report better health, new friendships and a better quality of life when participating in adaptive sports. Disabled Veterans who are physically active simply have more fun! To get started, take some time to review the many sports opportunities available to you by reaching out to your VA clinical team and checking out this website.”
Participation in the events is generally managed through a VA medical facility and the veteran’s health care provider team. Networking with your local or nearby VA medical facility can help you connect your veteran-client with the appropriate VA person. In addition, VA has grants to assist “members of the Armed Forces (ASG Program) provides grant funding to organizations to increase and expand the quantity and quality of adaptive sport activities disabled Veterans and members of the Armed Forces have to participate in physical activity within their home communities, as well as more advanced Paralympic and adaptive sport programs at the regional and national levels.”
While the six events are each held in a specific locality in the US, participants come from across the US. In 2018, the six events will be held in the following locations:
Winter Sports Clinic: Snowmass, CO, April 1-7, 2018. Applications close on December 15, 2017, so it may be too late to register for this coming year. However, like the other five national programs, this is an annual event and you should make a note on your 2018 calendar to check on the Clinic in August 2018.
Wheelchair Games: Orlando, FL, Jul 30-Aug 4, 2018. Registration runs from January 1- April 15, 2018.
Golden Age Games: Albuquerque, NM, August 3-8, 2018. Registration runs from April 2-May 2, 2018.
Tee Tournament (golf and bowling): Iowa City, IA, September 10-14, 2018. Registration is from December 1, 2017- April 1, 2018
Summer Sports Clinic: San Diego, CA, September 16-21, 2018. Registration is November 1, 2017-April 1, 2018.
Creative Arts Festival: Des Moines, IA, October 29-November 4, 2018. This competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing: Unlike the other national programs, individuals compete locally before they apply to the National event. The deadline for national submissions is March 23, 2018.
All the programs, except the Winter Clinic, typically move from city to city each year and are hosted by a VA medical facility. Community volunteers are almost always needed. As a DVOP specialist, not only can you volunteer, but you can also find participants who can benefit from your assistance.
While large employers help sponsor most events, local businesses may be involved in a host of ways from being volunteers to providing food to participants. As an LVER, you can find businesses at these events who want to hire veterans and have demonstrated a commitment to the veteran community.
Information about all the programs, including a one-page colorful flyer, is available at: https://www.va.gov/adaptivesports.
DVOP SPECIALISTS & LVER RESOURCES
This article focuses on several resources that are of interest to DVOP specialists and LVERs. Some of the resources in this article may be specific to a state or region.
ETHOS: Effectively Treating Our Heroes, Our Survivors
Singer Connie Francis created ETHOS to focus on medical attention, support experts on PTSD, transitional care and family counseling. This organization is not yet operating, but keep checking their website for more information. (http://www.conniefrancis.com/ethos):
Civic Digital Fellowship
This organization supports training for individuals interested in working for the Federal Government in the technology area. The fellowship includes a $3,300 stipend, free housing, and transportation to/from Washington DC. According to information on the organization’s web site, fellows have the opportunity to network with leaders in government and technology, and to participate in field trips. Past site visits include the United States Digital Service and the White House. Fellows also work one-on-one with a mentor to develop individual skills. Program mentors have both private and public-sector experience, and have created incredible technology-driven products. The 2018 Fellow application process has closed. DVOP specialists are encouraged to check this web site and look forward to the 2019 application cycle. (https://codingitforward.com/fellowship)
Veteran EDGE-Engage, Develop, Grow, Elevate Veteran EDGE is a conference for entrepreneurs, including veterans and military spouses, sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The Veteran EDGE Conference will take place February 16-18, 2018 in Austin, TX. This first-of-its-kind event is dedicated solely to veteran and military spouse business owners and the ecosystem that supports them. During this three-day conference and training event, stakeholders, IVMF program graduates, and veteran and military spouse-owned businesses from around the country will gather to network and learn about the latest opportunities, best practices, and resources available to their growing companies. There are only 150 spaces and applications are still being accepted. (https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/veteranedge/):
Centurion Military Alliance
This organization is focused on transitioning service members and their spouses. CMA advertises itself as a high-touch organization. CMA hosts community based military-to-civilian workshops designed to assist transitioning service members, veterans and spouses. Here are the dates for 2018 workshops:
- January 25th in Roundrock, TX
- February 22nd in San Antonio, TX,
- April 5th in Columbus, GA
- April 26th in Roundrock, TX
- May 3rd in Colorado Springs, CO
- May 24th in San Antonio, TX
- June 7th in El Paso, TX
- July 26th in San Antonio, TX
- August 23rd in Roundrock, TX
Craneology, Inc. is a "Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business", whose main objective is to provide both the private and public sectors with comprehensive crane operator and rigger training and certification. Craneology, Inc. achieves this objective through its team of expert trainers from the various fields within the Crane and Rigging Industry. While courses have registration fees as do certification exams, this company provides training that can lead to meaningful employment. (http://craneologyinc.com)
This Rockville MD company provides IT, Technical, Management, and Human Capital training. In addition, ASM participates in a spouse’s program that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance to eligible military spouses who are pursuing a license, certification or Associate’s degree in a portable career field or occupation. (https://asmed.com)
DOL VETS "HIRE VETS MEDALLION PROGRAM"
In 2017, VETS created a program to recognize employers who hire veterans under the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Veterans Act, or HIRE Vets Act, signed into law on May 5, 2017. The program is called the “HIRE Vets Medallion Program.” This program is of interest to LVERs as a way to recognize employer partners.
The official kick-off of the program occurred during the November Veterans Day celebration at DOL. The program is designed to recognize employers who recruit, employ, and retain veterans. Figure 1 outlines the award criteria.
FIGURE 1-AWARD CRITERIA
Starting January 31, 2018, VETS will accept applications for the program demonstration. VETS is accepting a total of up to 300 applications and the applications must be received by VETS by April 30, 2018. Winners will be notified by the middle of October 2018 and announced in conjunction with Veterans Day in November 2018. There is an application fee (required by law):
- $90 for small employers (50 or fewer employees)
- $190 for medium employers (51-499 employees)
- $495 for large employers (500 or more employees)
There are two levels of awards: Gold and Platinum. Winners receive a certificate stating the year for which it was awarded and a digital image of the medallion to use, including as part of an advertisement, solicitation, business activity, or product. Award recipients may use the medallion in the marketing of their firm as a veteran-friendly business when hiring, and in efforts to attract additional business.
LVERS (and other American Job Center Staff) should promote this awards program to employers as another way for them to be recognized for their support of veterans. Details about the program can be found at https://www.dol.gov/vets/hirevets/. This web site also has a wealth of information about how employers can create an effective veteran-focused program. LVERs can find the tools and handouts to provide companies who have an interest in the Award as well as starting a veteran-focused program.
Vet Lands Dream Job as a Pediatric Nurse
By Rhonda Burke
Army veteran Keith Westler is fulfilling a lifelong career goal by working as a pediatric nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks to the assistance of professional staff from the Department of Labor, American Job Centers, and the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, he reached his career goals when his previous career came to an unexpected end.
Four years ago, an injury sustained while working as a juvenile corrections officer left Keith unable to continue in that position. With a wife and three children to support, Keith turned to his local American Job Center, where he discovered he was eligible to apply to the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program. The program made it possible for him to enroll in college courses that would help him gain new skills for employment.
He had always been interested in nursing, but the need to support his family had been a barrier to starting college when he was younger, so instead he enlisted in the Army.
At 40 years old, Keith began his first college course at Ashland University. As he was completing the program last spring, he returned to the American Job Center. He was connected with Disabled Veteran Outreach Program counselor Daniel Lipps, who helped Keith hone his interviewing skills, refine his resume, and land his dream job: He began working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in October 2017.
“I never gave up my dream of working in pediatric nursing, it was just delayed,” Keith said. “I wasn’t aware of the benefits of a program like Voc Rehab until the job center told me about it. Now, I am the program’s biggest advocate.”
Keith loves his new job, and the starting wage of more than $25 an hour with benefits enables him to support his family. “I am so happy to go to work every day,” he said. “This is the job I was meant to do. I would encourage all veterans to visit the American Job Centers to discover what opportunities are available to them.”
Veterans can receive one-on-one assistance at American Job Centers across the country. Visit www.veterans.gov for more information or call 1-877-872-5627 to find your local center.
Rhonda Burke is a public affairs specialist for the Labor Department in Chicago.
Two Recent Veteran's Program Letters Worth Noting
DOL Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) recently issued two Veteran’s Program Letters (VPL) that are worth noting.
First, VPL 01-18, Exception for Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) Local Veterans’ Employment Representative Duty Roles (LVER), issued on 11 October 2017, discusses when an LVER can provide direct, individualized services to veterans. The VPL authorizes LVERs to temporarily provide these services when there is a Federally Declared Major Disaster Area (a disaster area where assistance is authorized by the President). When there is a Federally Declared Major Disaster Area, VETS will notify states through VETS State Directors that LVERs can provide direct, individualized services for 120 days. Extensions to the 120-day period can be approved by the Assistant Secretary for VETS.
Keep in mind that under federal law, LVERs who provide direct, individualized assistance (even in a Federally Declared Major Disaster Area) must complete the same training required of a DVOP specialist within 18 months of when the LVER provides direct, individualized assistance. Training is available through the National Veterans Training Institute.
Second, VPL 04-17, Change 1, National Veterans Training Institute Non-Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) Staff Attendance Guidelines, also issued on 11 October 2017) provides guidance on attendance at NVTI for individuals who are not funded by JVSG grants. Two take-aways from this VPL are:
- Non-JVSG personnel who are funded by a US Department of Labor grant can attend NVTI when space is available. In this case NVTI will coordinate and pay for the attendee as if they were JVSG-funded personnel. These individuals are given priority for any course with available seats.
- Individuals who are not funded by a US Department of Labor grant can attend NVTI on a space available basis and only with approval by VETS. Travel arrangements and costs for these individuals are the responsibility of the attendee and their organization.
Both VPLs are valid through September 2020.
Vet Helps Others Transition to Civilian Jobs
By Leo Kay
After 4 ½ years in the Army, Andres Mendoza advanced to staff sergeant. He emerged from two tours in Afghanistan with a positive attitude and a deep appreciation for those he served with.
Yet, Andres felt that the skills he gained during his seven years in the military didn’t seamlessly translate to the civilian world.
He spent several months filling out applications − and receiving rejection letters − for a variety of jobs after he was honorably discharged.
“It was like being 18 again at 26,” he recalled. Andres said he likes to consider himself self-sufficient and didn’t think he needed anyone’s help moving forward in his career as a civilian.
One day his wife ran across a Facebook page that announced an upcoming job fair in Victorville, California, where they now live.
He was hired on the spot for a job loading and unloading trucks at a nearby warehouse. He also met a representative from the High Desert America’s Job Center of California – opening a door to opportunities down the road.
Andres soon began to feel called to help other veterans assimilate to the civilian workplace after leaving service, so he enrolled in a bachelor’s program for social work at Brandon University while working at the warehouse. After receiving several invitations, he also decided to meet with a disabled veteran outreach program specialist at the High Desert center.
In fact, the job center hired Andres as part of a work/study program and strongly encouraged him to apply for any upcoming disabled veteran outreach specialist positions. An opportunity opened up about a year and a half later, and Andres landed the job.
As someone who has been in the trenches, he has compassion for his former fellow service members and feels he’s uniquely qualified to help in their transition back into the civilian world.
He credits their adaptability and willingness to take instructions as being huge assets when employers are looking to hire. “That’s the perfect recipe for success in the workforce,” he said.
Andres will graduate in May and plans to apply for a master’s program to continue his social work studies.
In the meantime, Andres now loves going to work every day “helping veterans overcome their barriers to employment.”
“I want to provide others the opportunity that was provided me,” he said. “The system works. I just point to my own story as proof.”
LinkedIn Veterans Mentoring Network
Before we get to the LinkedIn Veteran’s Mentoring Network, we want to wish you a Happy New Year and extend a heartfelt thanks to DVOP specialists, LVERs, ADVETs, DVETS, VPA, DRAVETS, RAVETS, the National Office VETS staff, your colleagues from the Wagner-Peyser side of the house, the staff from other DOL offices like the Employment and Training Administration, and the NVTI instructors. Thank you for what you do every day to help veterans, active duty members, and eligible spouses find meaningful work. For some of our veterans, that means the end of homelessness or a successful transition from incarceration to getting back on their feet and, in many cases, saving their families from separation or divorce. Occasionally, you may have even saved someone’s life. So, many heartfelt thanks for what you do every day to help our fellow veterans, family members, and transitioning service members find success in life.
As we move into 2018, the daily challenges won’t get easier. But there are many resources that can help you be successful in finding meaningful employment for your Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) client.
One source to help you is a LinkedIn group called the Veterans Mentoring Network (VMN) (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4466143). VMN is a very active group with numerous updates every day. If you have not had a chance to join the VMN, we highly recommend it.
Most DVOP specialists seldom have trouble finding veterans or transitioning services members who qualify for DVOP services. VMN is another great resource for identifying veterans and transition services members who qualify for support from a DVOP specialist or from a partner on the “other side” of the AJC. Tom Cal is the VMN group monitor and you will find him engaging and involved in the online group. According to Tom, VMN can be used for many things, including:
- Posting information to VMN about the resources you are trying to promote (e.g. job fair dates, training class opportunities, office hours and locations)
- Career counselors (DVOP specialists and LVERs) can use VMN to request career connections and mentors for clients you are serving.
- DVOP specialists and LVERs can use VMN to provide insights and assistance to VMN members, and in that way, find new clients.
VMN has 123,200+ members and 135,200 followers – so there are many opportunities for you to connect with potential clients and find support for your current clients.
Resources For Assisting Clients
The US Department of Labor recently posted a 20-page, 54 MB American Job Centers Customer Flow Scenarios file on the WIOA Network Community of Practice. The Customer Flow Scenarios give different stories that relate to AJC clients. While none of the stories are specifically aimed at veteran-clients, the stories still provide DVOP specialists and LVERs with some excellent resources.
At the end of each of the five stories, there is a page that contains a series of websites that provide resources related to the story. These five resource pages are an exceptional compilation of resources that are of value to all AJC members. Because of their value, we are including them here. You can find the original 20-page booklet at https://ion.workforcegps.org/resources/2017/07/19/10/02/AJC_Customer_Flow_Scenarios
For Those Clients with Undisclosed Disabilities
Employers Interested in Hiring Individuals with Disabilities
Seasonal Employee (Farmworker)
Recently Incarcerated Client
TANF recipient transitioning to Sustainable Employment