Tag Archives: Military to Civilian

Veterans: The “New” Minority?

Financial Hardships

Robin Cline imageIn today’s society, it is fairly well known that members of our Armed Forces face significant financial challenges. When I was in the U.S. Air Force, many times some of my younger airmen would get into trouble for financial irresponsibility. Some of them actually thought that as long as they had checks in the checkbook, that they had money in the bank. Many wrote checks accordingly, and then get into trouble for bouncing checks. Why did this happen?

The Air Force discovered no one had ever educated these young airmen, many of whom were married, as to how to properly handle finances. Soon, programs were developed that taught the younger troops how to handle a checkbook, and many of these problems disappeared.

Far more serious problems exist, especially for the newly separated troops, now Veterans, who are facing this monumental challenge: many are going under financially. According to USA Today, military families are nearly twice as likely to have credit card balances in excess of $10,000, and nearly one out of three enlisted/junior non-commissioned officers have accounts with predatory lenders like payday loans. Being unemployed and having mountains of debt, some facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, more and more marriages end up in divorce, which only causes additional pressure and frustration on these already overburdened young troops and their families.

Medical Issues

Anyway you look at it, war is a nasty business, getting worse with every passing day. Not only does technology advance, seemingly by the hour, but there are entire corporations built on the single premise of war, how to fight it, coming up with more lethal weapons and how to use them, and newer, more grotesque ways of killing each other. War has become a science all unto itself. And the service member is caught smack in the middle of it all.

Being trained in the use of these new super-weapons and their technology, exposes the men and women of our military to horrors that most civilians think would only be in the movies, but they’re not; these things are real, and our troops have to deal with the repercussions of these new and deadly technologies. When they come home, they often have either new or very rare conditions that most in the medical world have never encountered before, and are therefore lost as to how to effectively treat these Vets.

Although new super-illnesses are real, what about the more common types of injuries that our heroes face? A very primitive but highly effective device used by the enemy is known as the Improvised Explosive Device, or IED. This one type of device can cause wounds ranging from cuts and burns, to mutilating injuries that result in amputation and even death.  The types of injuries in-between can come in the form of concussions, hearing or vision loss, nerve damage of all sorts, and the list goes on and on.

Recent news reports highlight the vast and growing problems with the Veteran’s Administration hospitals, the extremely long wait times for appointments, and the poor care in general that our returning Vets receive, and yes, there’s still more….

Educational Issues

When I was discharged, in December, 1992, right after Operation Desert Storm, I did like so many others. I had no real problem finding a job back then, but the economy was much stronger too. I went to different schools, trying to better myself, but was unable to use any of my VA Educational benefits. As Desert Storm was not yet recognized by Congress, so my education fell completely on my shoulders. I recently decided to go to college to make a complete career path change, but soon discovered that my VA benefits were severely limited, both in dollars and in time to use; I nearly lost what benefits I had because no one told me of the time limits involved.

For the Veteran student, several problems must be overcome in order to get or continue a higher education. The question of financing the education is uppermost in mind for a vast majority of students, as most are not well-off financially. Another is the adjustment from the battle-field to the classroom, and lastly, the complex transition from military to civilian life. The more challenges that the Veteran student faces, the more likely they are to fall into a “stop-gap” situation. This is bad not only for the student, but the institution as well, because the Veteran student might well not finish the educational process at all.

Reader Value As a Veteran and student, I have seen and experienced many of the roadblocks and barriers that the Veteran students face, and it is my hope to bring attention to these and other problems faced daily by our Veterans, and to express how much we, as a grateful nation, need to correct these problems faced by our military heroes. They have given our country so much, and we, as the best nation on earth, need to step up to the plate, get a firm grip on the bat, and hit a new home-run for our Veterans….God Bless America!

Penned and contributed by:
Robin Cline
Your CC Connection

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Hiring Seasoned Veteran’s: An Employers Advantage

 

Navy Marine Corps FA-18
Navy Marine Corps FA-18

When it comes to seeking employment, those above the age of 50 bring far more than just experience, especially if they are Veterans. They bring traits such as leadership, problem solving skills, and a determination to get the job done right, the first time.

Seasoned Veterans understand the value of things that are vital to any unit, military or civilian, such as dependability, honesty, and integrity. Additionally, being seasoned gives them the added benefit of having the outlook and wisdom that only time and experience can give.

Leadership

On two separate occasions, while serving in the United States Air Force, I was promoted, as a Staff Sergeant, to the position of Non Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Mid Shift Avionics Shop for the F-111 aircraft; once at Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, New Mexico, and the other at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England. In this position, I oversaw the entire shop and all of its functions.

Lifetime civilian and military benefit: I encountered many types of situations requiring me to make major decisions, set schedules, assign duties, and coordinate with other shops in order to accomplish the mission.

During my tour at RAF Lakenheath, I coordinated remote support for our Deployed Avionics Shop at Tiaf, Saudi Arabia, during Operation Desert Storm. Here too, many challenges were faced and met during an actual war-time situation.

Problem Solving Skills

At RAF Lakenheath, our shop was located in an underground facility, with very limited floor space. During Operation Desert Storm, I developed, implemented, and supervised a suitable floor plan and change-over for the new incoming F-15 test equipment and crew while simultaneously removing the F-111 test equipment and crew; no small task, especially during an ongoing war.

Normal daily routines are one thing, but being in the military during war is something else again. Many times I saw the effects of the strain of the enormous pressures that the Airmen were under to fulfill the mission requirements, and how each reacted to it. Sometimes a quick response was required, sometimes filling in for them while they got a much-needed break. Being able to tell when discipline was needed and when it was not, solved many problems and eased the fears of getting into trouble for some minor thing.

Being seasoned presented than a “father figure” many of these young Airmen needed to feel. Resolving mental fatigue, through psychological empowerment, we increased morale. Taking advantage of direct and indirect influence, seasoned veterans helped our unit to achieve and maintain a Fully Mission Capable status and ultimately helped our military win the war.

Commitment 

As a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO), one is not only a Supervisor, but a trainer, manager, scheduler, and counselor. In the Air Force, the normal duty day is 8 hours, but during an exercise, or even in wartime, you train like you fight: whatever it takes. The shifts could be from 8, 16, 24, or even 36 hours, whatever was required to accomplish the mission. Being seasoned, one understands commitment to goal attainment, this is our way.

Many times I slept at the shop because the job required that I be there around the clock. And many times I worked triple shifts so that some of the younger, less experienced troops could get food, catch a quick nap, or write a letter home; all things that greatly contributed to the overall success of the mission. Also, times like these presented the perfect opportunity to give additional training under circumstances and conditions that would otherwise be extremely difficult to reproduce, so the training was doubly valuable.

Employer’s Value

For the seasoned Veterans 50 and above, everything begins with attitude.

Being a Veteran means that a person has been both military and civilian. As such, the Vet has seen and experienced things most other people will never experience. There are however, some things that are just common to life, either military or civilian.

Stress is a big factor in both kinds of life, and the Veteran has seen his or her share and knows first-hand how to handle it. By rule of thumb, first, take a deep breath, analyze the situation, choose the best course of action, and go for it! There is no “I” in the word “TEAM”, and more often than not, it is a team effort that makes the difference.

Another factor is recognition. The Vet knows the importance of recognizing when a job is well done, and just how good it makes the junior person feel to be recognized for their performance. And lastly, morale. This is one factor that can make or break any team or civilian organization, and the Vet is all too aware of this.

Morale is the glue that holds a unit together, and the unit is only as strong as its morale. Find a unit with good morale, and you will find a good leader there as well. Veterans are not better than anyone else, but they do have more experience in more areas than most others, and they have also been tested under fire, so, hire a Vet!

Penned and contributed by:
Robin Cline
Your CC Connection