Monthly Archives: April 2013

WBCNA & SSV Are Empowering Veterans

Are you a VeteranTransitioning Active-Duty Service Member, or Military Spouse?

Do you want to be your own boss? Hands-on training sessions give you the tools you need to start a business, secure financing and market with impact.

Do you need assistance finding the right job? Dynamic workshops deliver tips for budgeting, networking and interviewing skills for today’s market.

Do you need help improving your resume, so that it stands out from the crowd? One-on-one tips from HR pros will help make improvements on the spot.

Are you a Human Resources Professional who wants to Recruit Veterans?

Master strategies for recruiting & hiring Veterans.

Maximize the financial and performance benefits of having Veterans on your team.

Build a stronger workplace by managing diversity and understanding the challenges facing Veteran employees.

Then Empowering Our Veterans event is for YOU! Friday, May 17, 2013

Hosted by: Redstone Federal Credit Union Technology Center · 220 Wynn Drive · Huntsville

Registration: 8:30a.m. – 9:00a.m.
Training Workshops: 9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Entrepreneurial Courses: Starting Your Business, Financing Your Business, Marketing Your Business

Employment Courses: Financial Management, Resume Development, Social Media, Interviewing Skills Corporate

Employer Courses: Best Practices in Hiring Veterans, Recruiting Veterans & Understanding Tax Benefits, Veterans & Diversity in the Workforce

One-on-One Resume Critiques: 9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Bring a copy of your resume – both hard and soft copy. H.R. professionals will review & critique your resume, and you can use our computer lab to make improvements and print changes right away!

Keynote Luncheon: 12:00p.m. – 1:00p.m.

Overcoming Economic Uncertainty by Keynote Speaker Jae Barclay (Retired U.S. Army Captain & CEO of Working Wounded Warriors)

Career Fair & Business Expo: 1:00p.m. – 3:00p.m.

All attendees can put their skills to use right away! Network with companies seeking to recruit Veterans for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities!

Companies Recruiting
  • Yulista
  • Quantitech
  • ALATEC
  • West Corporation
  • Intuitive Research & Technology
  • and many more!
Cost to Attend

Veterans, Transitioning Active-Duty Service Members & Their Spouses: Free!

Non-Veterans: $25 before May 13th at 5pm; $50 after that

You must register online in order to reserve your space and to receive a lunch.

Follow the link below to register (scroll to bottom of the page)

http://wbcna.org/calendar/eventdetail/1350/-/empowering-our-veterans-entrepreneurship-employment

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VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is implementing an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer. Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before the VA issues a final decision.

“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015. This initiative is the right thing to do now for Veterans who have waited the longest.” 

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the Veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA. If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.

“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides Veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available. Our door will remain open and if a Veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked,” said Allison Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits.

If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed. The initiative protects the Veteran’s right to appeal the decision. If no further evidence is received within that year, VBA will inform the Veteran that their rating is final and provide information on the standard appeals process, which can be found at http://www.bva.va.gov/

Throughout this initiative, VA will continue to prioritize claims for homeless Veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims. More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/transformation/fastclaims/ 

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.

As a result of this initiative, metrics used to track benefits claims will experience significant fluctuations. The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim—currently 286 days— to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed. Over time, as the backlog of oldest claims is cleared and more of the incoming claims are processed electronically through VA’s new paperless processing system, VA’s average time to complete claims will significantly improve. In addition, the average days pending metric– or the average age of a claim in the inventory – will decrease, since the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA. Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA health care, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Job Search

Click here for original article from Forbes – written by Jacquelyn Smith 

As a job seeker, you’re most likely spending all your time scouring the Web for employment opportunities. But did you know a majority of openings are never advertised online? Probably not.

I’d also bet you’ve no clue how long most interviews last; how many other candidates are vying for your dream job; or how much money you lose over the course of your career if you never negotiate pay.

The job search process is tricky and trying, and there’s a lot you probably don’t know. However, if you do your research and have the proper information on your side, the outcome should be favorable.

Interview Success Formula, a program that helps job seekers to deliver powerful interview answers, compiled information from various sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor.com, CNN, TheUnderCoverRecruiter.com, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, to uncover facts and figures that may be useful to job seekers.

“Many job seekers want to know, Is what I am experiencing normal?” says Alan Carniol, founder of InterviewSuccessFormula.com. “I think this information can help them to answer that question and feel better about their job search experience. These statistics can also help them to create a job search plan, formulate their interview story, and navigate through the post-interview process more efficiently.”

Here are 7 things InterviewSuccessFomula.com found out about the job search process that you probably didn’t know:

1. There were 3.6 million job openings at the end of 2012. About 80% of available jobs are never advertised.

2. The average number of people who apply for any given job: 118. Twenty-percent of those applicants get an interview.

3. Many companies use talent-management software to screen resumes, weeding out up to 50% of applications before anyone ever looks at a resume or cover letter.

4. On average, interviews last 40 minutes. After that, it usually takes 24 hours to two weeks to hear from the company with their decision.

5. What do employees look for before making an offer? About 36% look for multitasking skills; 31% look for initiative; 21% look for creative thinking; and 12% look for something else in the candidate.

6. In the U.S., 42% of professionals are uncomfortable negotiating salary. By not negotiating, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by the time they reach 60.

7. More than half (56%) of all employers reported that a candidate rejected their job offer in 2012.

[Click here to see InterviewSuccessFormula.com’s infographic.]

Why are these statistics and facts so useful and important?

Knowing that the average interview runs just 40 minutes, for example, is a good reminder that you have very little time to make a memorable impression on the employer.

“A hiring manager must make a decision that can cost a company thousands or tens of thousands of dollars [in that short time],” Carniol says. “So, they are very sensitive to even the smallest details, like how nervous the job seeker is, or spelling errors on their resume. Plus, if you’re not prepared, even when you’re the most qualified, it’s very hard to prove ‘why you’ in such little time.”

Here are a few job search preparation tips and reminders:

Recognize that job search is a separate skill and process.

“Whether or not you are great at your job has little bearing on your job search success rate,” Carniol says. “You will have to invest energy in learning this process and remember that any frustrations encountered in the job search don’t relate to how valuable you can be on the job.”

Identify your top accomplishments.

Organizations want to know what results you can deliver to them–so your resume, cover letter, and interview should focus on these specific results, Carniol says. “Remember to add numbers and be as specific and detailed as possible. If you can, develop a story behind each of these accomplishments.”

Prepare an elevator pitch.

“In 60 seconds, you should be able to explain what you want as your next step and how you can create value (by highlighting accomplishments),” Carniol explains. This pitch will come in handy for cover letters, networking, and even chatting with family and friends about your job search. If you are clear on what you want and come across as motivated and valuable, people will want to help you.

Polish your resume.

It won’t land you a job offer, but a bad one can eliminate you, he says.

Get on top of the trends in your industry.

What new trends, technologies, or jargon do you need to be aware of? What companies are up-and-coming (and may be hiring)? Are there any specific skills that you need to improve to be competitive in today’s job market?

Inventory your network.

That 80% of jobs that aren’t posted will be discovered through your network, Carniol says. “And if you invest the time to map it out, your network will be far bigger than you expect.” Create a list of former co-workers, classmates, recreational sports teammates, fellow members of your religious congregation, family members, and neighbors–essentially anyone that you know. “Strengthen these connections by reaching out on LinkedIn.”

Once you prepare adequately, how can you make sure you have a successful job search?

Focus your job search.

Trying to get “any job” is much less effective than focusing on a specific job title at a specific type of organization that aligns with your skills and experience, Carniol says. “If you don’t meet the requirements for a position, think hard before applying. You may only be wasting your time, as well as the time of the employer.”

Use three different approaches to job seeking.

Only a small percentage of people get their jobs through sending a resume and cover letter in reply to a job posting. “The rest find positions by reaching out to colleagues in their field and asking for informal advice; through working on a contract or temporary basis with a target firm; through knocking on doors; by networking at live events and virtual career fairs; and even finding opportunities through social media,” Carniol says. “Use more than one and you’ll see success faster. But if you use more than three, it can get too overwhelming.”

Put in the time.

“The job search really needs to be a job where you invest enough hours each week into the search,” he says. “The majority of the time, you will unfortunately not hear anything back. Though frustrating, that’s normal. You still need to keep at it and put in enough time the next week.”

Come to the interview prepared.

Do your homework on the interviewer and the company so you’re adequately prepared. In addition, come to the interview with your own personal interview story and with questions for the interviewer. This will help you to stand out from other candidates, Carniol says.

Follow-up.

“You may reach out for a networking conversation and not hear back. You may not hear back after an interview when you expect. In any case, it’s on you to follow-up on a timely basis so that you stay in consideration,” he says. “A week is a good amount of time between outreaches if you haven’t heard back.”

Understand the power of negotiation.

Once you land a job, you may have the opportunity to negotiate terms, like salary and benefits. Don’t be afraid to speak up! You could be missing out on added bonuses if you don’t, Carniol says.

Remember how much you have to offer on the job.

“The job search can feel disheartening,” he says. “Yet, that doesn’t reflect what you can do for an employer when you join their team.” Keep in mind the value you have to offer any company in every job search communication. If you need a confidence boost, review all of your previous accomplishments.

“The job search process can be tough, but it’s important for job seekers to meet every challenge with the right information and an ample plan of action,” Carniol concl

Get the Facts on VA’s Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan

Stable housing leads to long-term stability, which factors into reliability and other characteristics of successful employees. Are you aware that loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loan Program have had the lowest foreclosure rate in the past 19 quarters compared to all other types of home loans? This is pretty significant given the trials and tribulations of the housing market during the past several years.

Did you know the VA’s Home Loan Program Benefit is not a one-time benefit, but can be reused? Since 1944, more than 20 million Veterans and Service Members have enjoyed the benefit of a home purchase through the VA Home Loan program. Veterans who have already used their VA benefit in their home purchase may reuse that benefit to purchase another residence, or to refinance to a lower rate. This is referred to as an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) or Streamline Refinance Loan. No appraisal or credit underwriting is required.

Consider this:

If a Veteran used their benefit, perhaps while on active duty, to purchase a home, they should compare their interest rate with current rates in their area. That Veteran can reuse their VA benefit to refinance their home with “no money out of pocket,” as costs may be included in the loan. If that Veteran has since separated or retired from the military and receives disability compensation of at least 10%, he or she is exempt from the funding fee. This can be a considerable monthly or total savings for the Veteran. On average, Veterans saved more than $200 per monthly payment on IRRRLs last year, saving those Veterans over $900 million in their first two years alone! Learn more about IRRRLs on the VA website: http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/irrrl.asp.

Veterans may obtain a Certificate of Eligibility online through eBenefits or through their lender. I encourage Veterans to seek the advice of a financial professional and to contact several lenders for quotes to determine what is in their best interest. If you have any questions, you can contact your closest VA regional office with Loan Guaranty staff by calling 1-877-827-3702, or visiting http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/contact_rlc_info.asp.

A Few Words About Finding New Opportunities

Here at SSV, we work tirelessly to help Veterans find work and transition into civilian life. We love it when we hear from those that we have helped, and love it even more when they have words of encouragement for other Veterans. Here are a few of those words:

Mitch, and SSV helped me the most by being there to actually talk to me, and their resume editing was critical to obtaining my interview, and job offer. Network, network, network! Do not isolate yourself, do not miss a viable opportunity to meet with people who can hire you, or help you get hired.  Your attitude is so important, during my 16 months looking for full time work: I prayed, I applied, I cried, I studied & read material useful to my career field, and I managed my attitude (my toughest challenge). My toughest career lesson was accepting the economy is changing (Defense salaries dropped 6% in 2012 alone in Alabama), and I had to both change career fields, and move to the new work.  My new employer specifically hired me because I am a Vet, they want disciplined leaders with integrity who are adaptable, not because I have experience in their industry.

– Norm M.

We firmly believe that Veterans represent some of the best employees in the job market for potential employers. Here’s another:

When I received my honorable discharge from the military my goals were to finish college and find a good job.  After three years of school I received my degree and I instantly began my job search.  After several months and close to fifty applications later I only had two job interviews and no offers.  In this economy it became apparent that I needed all the help I could get to make myself stand out from other candidates.  A friend of mine, who was a Still Serving Veterans client, told me of their services and the next day I scheduled an appointment with them.  Within two weeks of my appointment with SSV they helped me get an interview with a reputable defense company in Research Park, and another week after that the company sent me a job offer.  Just four weeks after my first contact with SSV I had my first day with my new job.  SSV helped me market my skills and emphasized the value of my military experience to employers.  It is a simple fact, without their help I would still be unemployed.

– Josh B.

It truly is wonderful when we can help facilitate a transition so quickly. Sometimes, there’s just a few aspects that we can assist with or bring to the Veteran’s attention, and those changes have the potential to change an employer’s outlook on a potential employee.

A BIG HOOAH!!! to STILL SERVING VETERANS!!!!!
I can not say enough out about SSV’s dedication and professionalism in helping all Veteran’s. I can testify they helped me in the step by step efforts to set me up for success in finding not only a job but a career that fits me. It hasn’t just stop there folks! They are still there for me as I completely transition into the civilian world. They ROCK!
– Sophia M.
We love to hear from those who feel we helped, so if you have worked with us, either in the past or presently, feel free to leave a comment here or on our facebook page.

Be A Game Changer! SSV Needs Your Vote!

Uncle Sam

Be a Game Changer and Help Still Serving Veterans Win Grant That Will Allow More Veterans to be Served

Still Serving Veterans Needs Your Vote

vote button

HUNTSVILLE, ALA (April 4, 2013) – Huntsville answered the call from State Farm® to submit causes that would make a positive impact in their neighborhood. Now Still Serving Veterans needs your “assist” by voting them to the top and bringing money to Huntsville and surrounding communities. From April 4 through April 22, anyone who has the free State Farm Neighborhood Assist™ Facebook application can vote for SSV’s “Technology 4 Serving Vets” cause which will bring $25,000 to North Alabama.

The $25,000 would bring “Technology 4 Serving Vets.” Still Serving Veterans has big plans to reach more Veterans and families through virtual means but their in-house technology is holding them back. With your help, Still Serving Veterans would use the money from State Farm to buy 20 new computers for staff and Veteran use in their facilities and would then donate the old laptops to needy Veterans to assist in their job searches.

3,000 submissions were received through State Farm Neighborhood Assist, a youth-led philanthropic program that empowers communities to identify issues in their neighborhood.  At least one cause was received from every eligible state, district and province in the United States and Canada. Then, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, a diverse group of 30 students who are passionate about social responsibility, reviewed the cause submissions and selected the 200 finalists based on criteria they created.

Once the Youth Advisory Board selected the top 200, the program connected each cause with a local nonprofit that can help solve the problem. Forty-three states and Canadian provinces have causes in the top 200.

Still Serving Veterans has until April 22 to rally votes in North Alabama, with anyone voting allowed up to 10 votes per day. On April 29, the top 40 vote-receiving causes will be announced on the Facebook app and a $25,000 grant will be awarded to the affiliated nonprofits.

Retired Colonel William Webb, USA, SSV’s President and Co-Founder, said, “It’s the support of the community that makes our service possible and lets our military heroes know their sacrifices for our Nation are recognized. This $25,000 grant will enable us to leverage our success and serve at a higher level for our hero Veterans. Education, stable and fulfilling employment, and access to healthcare services empower our nation’s service members and their families to successfully reintegrate into civilian life and lead enriching lives.”

Vote for Still Serving Veterans’ “Technology 4 Vets” cause by clicking here, or for a complete list of the top 200 causes click here.

 

Our Plea:

SSV has been around since 2006, and so have their computers. Staff works with Dell laptops that were manufactured in 2004/2005, have a whopping 2GB of RAM (less than most USBs) with a total of 74GB of memory, and have a plethora of problems. Our IT, Patricia, is constantly trying to keep a handle on the maintenance of the laptops but is now getting in over her head: laptops crash regularly, USB & AV ports are failing or require extensive jiggling, and laptops process at the speed of a fast snail.

Although SSV has big plans to reach more Veterans and families through more virtual means, the technology being used is holding them back. Yet to keep their overhead ratio as low as it is, 14% (meaning 86 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs and services), there is no room in their budget for a technology overhaul.

If allotted the $25,000, SSV would buy 20 new computers for staff and Veteran/client use and then donate their old laptops to needy Veterans to assist in their job search.

 

About Still Serving Veterans:

SSV is a Veteran Service Organization headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama that empowers Veterans and their families to optimally transition into meaningful new careers and post-military lives with all the benefits and services that they have earned.  Founded in 2006, SSV has served more than 10,000 Veterans and their families nationally. Since 2007, SSV has secured over $78 million in cumulative additional benefits, services, and salaries for their Veteran clients. In 2012, SSV’s professional counselors conducted 3,499 one-on-one counseling sessions which secured over $7.7 million for their Veteran clients and helped a record 164 Veterans get hired. SSV is also recognized nationally as a center of excellence for Veteran reintegration and optimization of Veteran services. For more information about SSV, please visit www.stillservingveterans.org

About State Farm®:

State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

About the Youth Advisory Board

The Youth Advisory Board is comprised of 30 students, ages 17-20, from across the United States and Canada who serve a two-year term. Their directive is to implement a $5 million-a-year signature service-learning initiative to address issues important to youth and communities. The Board is completely autonomous and youth-driven, and funds projects focused on issues selected by the board that impact youth. It consists of a diverse group of full-time students at high schools and universities. Each member commits about 15 hours a month to the Board and participates in three face-to-face meetings per calendar year. The Board will fund the 40 grants awarded through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program with a portion of its $5 million funding in 2013. For more information on the Youth Advisory Board, visit www.statefarmyab.com.

Links

Neighborhood Assist: http://www.statefarm.com/neighborhoodassist

Youth Advisory Board: http://www.statefarmyab.com/

Criteria: https://www.state-assist.com/

Vote for SSV: https://www.state-assist.com/cause/129/technology-4-serving-vets

See Top 200: https://apps.facebook.com/sf_neighbor_assist/