REBOOTed veteran shares her story and pays it forward

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I’m a U.S. Navy veteran coping with life after the military. I miss my Navy career and the camaraderie of those sharing the same mission. I know things would be very different for me if REBOOT hadn’t found me before I left the Navy.

I was a combat documentation specialist covering evidence of war crimes including the exhumation of mass graves and land mine management activities in Bosnia. I mentored Afghans while covering U.S. Army sustainment brigade missions throughout Afghanistan as a public affairs non-commissioned officer and documented counter-piracy operations in the Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden on a Navy destroyer. I have been the only female on many national and international all-male expeditionary assignments around the world, which makes me believe in my heart women can perform in combat roles. A part of me wishes I could continue to be a part of the evolution of women in the military but I had to move on with life as a civilian and REBOOT helped me do that.

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I was introduced to REBOOT through a coworker. He told me the program would help me prepare for getting out. I needed some good news at this point because I had just talked to a new civilian coworker and the story he told me about life as a veteran was horrible. He told me about how daunting it was to prepare for separation and how the search for a job was even more challenging. He had been out of the Navy for almost four years and this job was the first promising position he’d found since he left the military.  He continued to tell me he’d been living with his parents to get by. He had applied for hundreds of jobs online or in person and only a handful resulted in a call back or interview.

I couldn’t afford to look for a job for four years and living with my parents wasn’t an option. I was the sole provider for two young children and my disabled mother. All my military accomplishments and decorations weren’t going to pay the bills once I was out, so what was I going to do? My heart sank and I went into my office, closed the door and cried to myself. It felt like the hardest thing I would do, would be to leave the military. I was feeling lost and hopeless.

When I got to REBOOT I walked into a room filled with 20-something other veterans and transitioning men and women in civilian clothes.  We all were a little excited to get started but I was feeling apprehensive and wondered what the catch was.  I had a hard time believing a three-week transition program that was free wasn’t going to cost me something. It seemed I was content to feel sorry for myself because I didn’t want to leave the military and I was scared of life as a civilian.

By the end of the first day I was singing a different tune.  The facilitator told me, and the rest of the class, we could do anything we put our minds to. He said the possibilities were endless because we were no longer going to be confined by the structure, demands and limits of life in the military. It was like having an epiphany.  I could do anything I wanted to? I didn’t have to leave my family anymore?  I could be there for my daughter’s birthdays and not have to have her look me in the eyes and ask me not to leave again? I liked how that made me feel.  As a single mother traveling the world for the military, I had missed a lot of time with my daughter and now I would be there for her everyday. I had also taken in my young nephew and sick mother so being home was more important than ever.

That was just the beginning of the transformation that took place inside me while going through REBOOT. They encouraged me to envision the future I wanted and showed me ways to reinforce that vision through cognitive exercises and positive affirmations.  What I learned was empowering. It made me feel like I could do anything and more than one year later I still feel that way but the road hasn’t been an easy one. Figuring out exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life is the hardest part of leaving the military when you have been in it for so long. I love writing so I at least knew my future career had to include my passion.

In addition to igniting the optimist in me, REBOOT provided me with resources to help me with my transition out of the military. They helped me find an advocate to file my Department of Veterans Affairs, VA disability claim, they put me in touch with representatives from local schools to pursue my education, they taught me networking skills and took me to events to help me connect with employers, additional veteran resources, entrepreneurs and best of all veterans just like me who want to stay connected to other veterans.

Now I’m in college pursuing my bachelor’s, working part time as a photographer and media specialist, receiving care for my disabilities through the VA and feeling hopeful that I can do more than just provide for my family. I know becoming a civilian takes a long time after serving in the military, especially since I had a habit of putting myself in challenging roles, but I am using the same tenacity I used in the Navy to be successful in civilian life. Thanks to REBOOT I have the confidence and understanding that transitioning isn’t an overnight process but I can do it.

REBOOT is paid for by individual and small business donations and corporate sponsorships. I believe in REBOOT so much so that I donate $19 a month to help other veterans go through the program and I use my communication talents to highlight the program and share stories about veterans who have also gone through REBOOT.

If you’d like to donate to help a veteran go through REBOOT, you can do it through REBOOT’s Facebook page or click here.

If you want to know what it was like first hand to go through REBOOT, you can join me on my day to day voyage at VETERANS REBOOT LIVES or check out my current blog, INVISIBLE WARRIORS, about my life as a veteran.

Pre and Post Veteran

 

Marine Follows His Passion After REBOOT

Story by Krishna M. Jackson

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian.

Marine Corps Sergeant Michael Pride graduated REBOOT Workshop as part of Class 2 in August 2010.  Michael was preparing to leave the Marine Corps after being medically evaluated for injuries he received in Afghanistan when his vehicle was rolled over by an improvised explosive device, pinning his left arm under the vehicle causing him to almost lose his arm.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD and a Purple Heart recipient and I had to go through two and half years of rehab.” said Michael in a DODLive video blog.

Michael received treatment for his injuries at Naval Medical Center San Diego, NMCSD.  He was featured in a blog written by NMCSD’s commanding officer, Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III for his tenacity in supporting his own recovery through occupational therapy and athletic competition.

“Cpl. Pride is a Purple Heart recipient but has never let his injury prevent him from doing the things he loves. He has participated in adaptive winter sports (sled hockey and snowboarding) coordinated through NMCSD’s Balboa Warrior Athlete Program (BWAP) and in May 2010 was recognized as the “BWAP athlete of the Quarter.” In July 2010 he was awarded the “Your Spirit Inspires Award” by the Disabled Sports America, Far West, given to an individual who demonstrates leadership and determination throughout a week of recreational therapy. During the Paralympic Sport Camp in Newport, Rhode Island, Cpl. Pride was given the “VISA Leader of the Day Award” recognizing him for his leadership, good attitude and ability to motivate the other athletes,” said Rear Adm. Faison in his blog from Nov. 1, 2010.

While undergoing physical therapy at NMCSD, Michael attended REBOOT to help him prepare to transition out of the Marine Corps. He was working hard to achieve normalcy in his life and had appealed to the commandant of the Marine Corps to stay in and pursue his passion as a Marine. Next to his family, he knew serving as a Marine was his other passion in life.

“I was thinking about ‘what can I do to stay in’ and when I left REBOOT all my paperwork was coming back telling me I was pretty much leaving on this date,” said Michael.

Remaining on active duty may seem contrary to what REBOOT’s purpose is but REBOOT helps with more than just transitioning from military to civilian life. The curriculum in the second week of REBOOT teaches students to identify their personalities and what careers they are best suited for. Michael realized his path in life was to serve his country. Michael couldn’t and wouldn’t let go of his dream to stay on active duty in the Marine Corps despite how everything and everyone seemed to tell him it was inevitable he would be leaving.

In September 2010 Michael received the response he had been waiting for. The Commandant of the Marine Corps granted him permission to continue serving on active duty.  Even though REBOOT is a transitioning program, Michael has applied some of what he learned to life on active duty.

“It [REBOOT] gave me the confidence to be able to speak in front of people. To be confident about what I’m saying. Also being injured in combat I had a wall built up and if you weren’t a combat veteran like me I didn’t think you would understand. REBOOT helped me settle down and get back into the swing of things and gave me the confidence to share my story,” said Michael.

Michael set a goal for himself back in 2010 to be an instructor at Motor Transportation Instruction Company, MTIC Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Today he instructs the Motor Transportation Operators course there and intends to make the Marine Corps a career. Focusing on a goal and working toward it is one of the corner stones of REBOOT’s program to help students succeed. Michael achieved his vision by tapping into his self-efficacy.

Even though Michael considers himself blessed to have the opportunity to continue with his career in the Marine Corps, he encounters many Marines who don’t have the opportunity to remain on active duty. Since Michael’s experiences have taught him valuable lessons about how to overcome adversity, he is in a unique position to offer advice to help others transition because he was there on the edge of transitioning himself.

“My advice to them [transitioning Marines] is to just stay the course. Basically when I was trying to relocate into civilian life I was a little scared because I didn’t know what I was going to do but REBOOT helped me and there are resources out there to help them. They just need to be open and to reach out to them, “ he said.

There’s a saying in the Marine Corps, “Once a Marine, always a Marine,“ and Michael will never forget those words even after he hangs up his uniform upon retirement. He will remember how hard he fought to follow his passion when others said it was impossible.  REBOOT helped him realize anything is possible.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for REBOOT,“ Michael said.

REBOOT has now served more than 1,000 veterans and transitioning service men and women.  It has proven itself time and again through the successes of its graduates. The program provides life skills to help those who once relied on the military for structure and support but now must rely on themselves and the much smaller and widespread support networks of civilian life.

Mary Kay To Makeover Women Veterans

Mary Kay representatives from San Diego will makeover 22 women veterans attending REBOOT Workshop Wednesday, March 5, 2014 beginning at 1 p.m. The event takes place at NVTSI headquarters in Mission Valley, 4141 Camino Del Rio S., San Diego. Setup begins at noon and the event ends at 4 p.m. Participants will be available for interviews.

Mary Kay Senior Sales Director, Lynnae Bowen will oversee five Mary Kay consultants while they makeover 22 women veterans as part of REBOOT Workshop’s program teaching veterans to dress for success. This is the second all-women REBOOT Workshop NVTSI has provided to help address the needs of women transitioning from military service.

“Mary Kay is proud to give back to our women veterans by providing makeovers to the women of REBOOT Class 62.  Mary Kay’s philosophy is to enrich the lives of women by empowering them to reach their full potential,” said Bowen.

Mary Kay is in its 51st year of business and is one of the largest beauty companies in the world with $3.5 billion in sales.  It is currently promoting its brand “Discover What You Love” after its most successful year since Mary Kay Ash started the company more than 50 years ago. Mary Kay believes in social responsibility by helping others through philanthropy and empowering women to become their own business owners as Mary Kay beauty consultants.

NVTSI, through REBOOT Workshops and other initiatives, has helped more than 1,000 veterans make a successful transition from military service to civilian life including employment, education, personal outlook and well being. NVTSI has a proven 98% success rate of linking veterans with meaningful employment. For more information, visit www.nvtsi.org.

 

August Veteran Employment Situation Report covering July 2013

VETERAN UNEMPLOYMENT REPORTGeneral Summary

The BLS CPS report states there were 21,384,000 veterans alive in July, down from 21,412,000 in June, a loss of 28,000 veterans in July. This continues the trend of the shrinking veteran population due in large part to having an all-volunteer force since 1972 and not having a military draft. There were nearly sixty million veterans alive at the end of the Vietnam War. America has lost two thirds of the veterans in the last 41 years.

There were 10,923,000 veterans in the workforce in July, a decline of 27,000 from the 10,950,000 in June.

The CPS overall veteran unemployment rate for all veterans in July rose marginally to 6.4%. The rate in June was 6.3%. This is an increase of 0.1%. There were 702,000 unemployed veterans in June, up 15,000 from the 687,000 unemployed veterans in June.

The fact that the veteran unemployment rate remains lower than the non-veteran unemployment rate continues to be good news. The above information continues a positive trend for veterans. As the veteran unemployment rate remains lower than the non-veteran unemployment rate again reinforces the fact that veterans as a class continue to have better success finding employment than non-veterans!

Younger Veterans

An area where there has been a veteran unemployment issue over the last six years since the current call up policy was implemented on January 11, 2007 has been in the 18 to 24 year old group and the 25 to 29 year old group which make up a large part of the National Guard and Reserve (NG&R). The news for younger veterans continues to be mixed.

The unemployment rate for the 18 to 24 year old veterans in July fell to 17.4% (28,000) from 20.5% (34,000) in June. There are 34,000 18 to 24 year old veterans not in the labor force who are probably in school or technical training programs or may be disabled.

The unemployment rate for the 25 to 29 year old veterans in July rose to 12.3% (68,000) from June’s 10.0% (53,000). This reverses the trend of the 25 to 29 year old veterans who had been having a falling unemployment rate.

For comparison, the CPS overall unemployment rate for all 18 to 24 year olds (veterans and nonveterans) in July was 14.2% (2,938,000), down from the June rate of 16.3% (3,397,000). The unemployment rate for all 25 to 29 year olds in July was 8.4% (1,416,000), up from the June rate of 8.1% (1,363,000),

The fact that veterans are having better success at finding jobs than their civilian counterparts is good, but there are veterans who are having problems for a variety of reasons.

Older Veterans

Of the 702,000 unemployed veterans in July, 675,000 were over the age of 25. This is an increase of 24,000 from the 651,000 in June. The unemployment rates for the older veteran groups are as follows:

July             June
30 to 34 year olds    3.1% (25,000)        5.4% (112,000
35 to 39 year olds    7.5% (65,000)        4.5% (39,000)
40 to 44 year olds    5.6% (68,000)        6.0% (73,000)
45 to 49 year olds    4.3% (59,000)        5.0% (66,000)
50 to 54 year olds    7.0% (104,000)        7.4% (107,000)
55 to 59 year olds    7.1% (97,000)        7.1% (102,000)
60 to 64 year olds    6.5% (81,000)        4.8% (61,000)
65 year olds and over    5.8% (109,000)        6.8% (128,000

Like last month, these numbers indicate the emphasis for helping veterans with employment may need to add emphasis to the older veterans, especially those in their 50s and older as they now have higher unemployment numbers.

The publicity of younger veterans having problems promoted by the White House, the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), veteran service organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion (Legion), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Student Veterans of America (SVA) and veteran employment sites like VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com) has been very successful. Now the same attention needs to be directed towards older veterans.

Women Veterans

The unemployment rate for women veterans in July dropped to 6.6% (92,000) from June’s 7.6% (107,000). This is a decrease of 1.0% (15,000). This is good as the unemployment rate for women veterans had been climbing. In comparison, the unemployment rate for all women (veteran and non-veteran) in July was 7.3% (5,263,000), down from the June rate of 7.4% (5,370,000).

The unemployment rate for 18 to 24 year old women veterans in July was 8.3% (3,000) down from the June rate of was 9.0% (4,000). This was a decrease of 0.7% (1,000). In contrast, the unemployment rate for all 18 to 24 women (veteran and non-veteran) in July was 12.6% (1,241,000), down from the June rate of 14.6% (1,453,000).

Gulf War II Veterans

The unemployment rate for Gulf War II era veterans in July was 7.7% (166,000), up from the June rate of 7.2% (160,000), an increase of 0.5% (6,000). This reverses the downward trend in unemployment for the Gulf War II veterans.

Black Veterans

The unemployment rate for Black veterans in July dropped to 7.2% (102,000), down from the June rate of 10.3% (154,000). In contrast, the unemployment rate for all Blacks in July was 12.6% (2,329,000) which represents a decrease from the June rate of 13.7%, (2,549,000). These numbers lend credence to the benefits of minorities having joined the military!

Asian Veterans

The unemployment rate for Asian veterans in July was 5.1% (8,000), an increase from the June rate which was 4.2% (7,000). The Asian veteran unemployment rate had been steadily moving downwards before this increase. In contrast, the unemployment rate for all Asians is 5.4% (458,000).

Hispanic Veterans

The unemployment rate for Hispanic veterans in July was 7.3% (62,000), a marginal increase from the June rate which was 7.2% (67,000). In comparison, the unemployment rate for all Hispanics (veteran and non-veteran) in July was 8.9% (2,181,000), an increase from the June rate of 8.7% (2,144,000).

First Lady’s Office Joins Military Sex Scandal Debate

First Lady Michelle Obama’s office Thursday entered the debate over the growing military sexual assaults scandal now plaguing the Pentagon by joining in a meeting with 16 members of Congress at the White House.
According to Politico, the lawmakers, most of them women, were there to discuss the issue with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, violence against women adviser Lynn Rosenthal, and Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff.
Sen. Patty Murray told reporters afterwards that the administration is taking sexual assault “very seriously.”
“We talked about all the different legislation that was out there; they were talking about some of the things that could be done administratively through the military,” the Washington Democrat said.
The first lady has been a strong advocate, along with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, in pushing legislation and promoting more engagement from the private sector in programs to benefit military families and ensure the well-being of all military personnel.

Fitzpatrick Talks About the Growing Problem of Veteran Unemployment

“Last year the White House announced a new plan to tackle the high rate of unemployed veterans. Today the president and first lady announced that the ‘Joining Forces’ program was months ahead of schedule and has already helped 290,000 veterans or family members find work or receive career training. While I applaud the focus on tackling the problem of veteran unemployment, there is still more work to be done. As a member of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus I am actively involved in finding ways to buck the trend of high veteran unemployment.

Pence To Sign Bill Giving In-State Tuition To Veterans

Governor Pence travels to Fort Wayne today where he will sign the Soldier‘s Tuition bill into law. The bill provides Indiana‘s veteran‘s in-state tuition to the state‘s colleges and universities. Senator Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), who authored the bill, says it is a win-win for Indiana and veterans.

Part I: Using Story as a Veteran’s Job Search Tool

It’s important to understand that our stated mission to employ our heroic armed forces after they have served doesn’t just mean creating jobs. It also means connecting each individual person with a job. And that is a system that is not just in trouble — it’s also dangerous. Because unless you pull back the curtain and look backstage, that system looks fine. Big whirring human resource machines, equipped with measurements, and cubicles and power points and everything. With all of that, the system as it is should work perfectly, right?

Jobs for Veterans: Kaine’s Troop Talent Act Hits Congress

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va) bill to help veterans find employment and other resources more easily once entering civilian life was introduced Monday to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Troop Talent Act of 2013 is designed to help veterans effectively translate their military skills and credentials into civilian employment, Kaine said.