Veterans GOODNEWS for Jan. 22

Veterans GOODNEWS for Jan. 22

Good news for veteransThe value of hiring veterans (NASDAQ)
Despite recent job growth across our nation, military veterans still face unique challenges as they enter the workforce. Nine percent of veterans who joined the armed forces since 2001, but have now returned to civilian life, are still unemployed. One of every two veterans who has transitioned from the military in the last 5 years is unemployed. These statistics should tell anyone in business one thing: Despite the success many companies have had in hiring veterans, we still have a lot of work to do to make things right. In his State of the Union address on January 20, President Obama agreed, encouraging businesses to embrace the example of companies like UPS when it comes to hiring veterans. “Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education,” the president said. The president also mentioned the Joining Forces Initiative, a program UPS is supporting through its commitment to hiring more than 50,000 veterans by 2018.  UPS also committed to serve more than 50,000 employee volunteer hours helping veterans and Veterans Service Organizations.    “Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs,” the president said. “So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.” From our experience, hiring a veteran starts by committing to a better understanding — and appreciation – for the skills veterans offer.

Bradley Cooper surprises troops at screening of ‘American Sniper’ (
Troops at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas got a special surprise after a screening of “American Sniper” on Jan. 14: a visit from Bradley Cooper. As nearly 260 service members watched Cooper play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle — the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history — the actor secretly made rounds through the hospital visiting patients and wounded soldiers. The crowd erupted in applause when Cooper suddenly entered the auditorium at the film’s end. And Cooper didn’t come alone. Special guests like Kyle’s father Wayne and two veterans who appeared in the movie, Bryan Anderson and Jacob Schick, joined him for a question-and-answer session. “I know when Bradley walked in you were all cheering wildly for him, but it’s us who needs to be cheering for you all,” Wayne Kyle said. His son Chris, whose story served as the basis for the film and book of the same name, was tragically shot and killed in February 2013 at a shooting range after serving four tours in Iraq and receiving several commendations for acts of heroism. In answer to how he prepared for the role, Cooper said he studied the intricacies of military weapons and added bulk to his frame. “Making this movie was a life-changing experience,” he said. “I was terrified when I started. I didn’t know if I could actually get to a place where I would believe that I was Chris.” For at least one Marine in the audience, Cooper did the part justice. “I feel like you are one of my brothers,” he said in a tearful response. “I think you did really well and I just want to say thank you.”

New Pentagon policy opens doors for military support nonprofits (
Military support non-profits may soon have an easier time bringing their services on base thanks to a new pair of policy directives signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in December. The policy memos instruct base commanders to standardize the way non-profits who want access to military personnel and their families on base are treated. “These directives underscore my belief that events and support provided by [Veteran Support Organizations], [Military Support Organizations] and military-support nonprofits can be critically important to the welfare of our service members and families,” Hagel wrote in a letter obtained by that was sent with the memos to some military and veteran support organizations. “The Department must maintain positive relationships with those organizations to facilitate their delivery of services to our personnel who need them.” The memos direct base commanders to be “welcoming and supportive” to organizations, such as the American Legion, recognized as official support groups by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Virginia veterans hiring program reaches job pledge milestone (Roanoke Times)
A Virginia program aimed at hiring veterans is claiming 10,000 jobs pledged to vets. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the milestone Wednesday for the Virginia Values Veterans Program. Since June 2012, the so-called V3 Program has accepted 234 member companies. Those companies have pledged 10,000 jobs and hired nearly 7,000 veterans. McAuliffe has announced incentives to expand the program. They would reward companies for successfully recruiting, hiring and retaining service members and veterans seeking private sector employment. The proposals are before the General Assembly.

Bears, Buccaneers players chosen as finalists for NFL Salute to Service Award (
The NFL and USAA, the league’s Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson as the two finalists for the fourth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. Allen and Jackson were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The Salute to Service Award honoree will be recognized at the “4th Annual NFL Honors” awards show in Arizona on NBC on Sat., Jan. 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX. USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the winner’s honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. “Since joining the NFL to launch Salute to Service in 2011, USAA has been proud to recognize leaders in the NFL community who honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military,” said Don Clark, assistant vice president of media and sponsorship marketing at USAA. “Jared Allen and Vincent Jackson have not only supported military and their families for years through their respective foundations, but they inspired so many others to join their efforts. Either finalist is worthy of this year’s Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.”

State leaders praise veterans at Iowa Capitol (The Des Moines Register)
Veterans from all military branches packed the Iowa Capitol Wednesday to hear the state’s leaders praise their service and promise their sacrifices won’t be forgotten. About 250 veterans from throughout the state – many wearing colorful headgear from veterans’ organizations – then spread throughout the Capitol to buttonhole Iowa House and Senate members. State Rep. Quintin Stanerson, R-Center Point, a Marine veteran who chairs the Iowa House Veterans Affairs Committee, told the crowd at the annual “Veterans Day on the Hill” that lawmakers will support veterans any way they can. “Iowa is made even greater because all of you chose to come back here and make Iowa your home,” Stanerson said. The Iowa Veterans Coalition, representing nine veterans groups, has a legislative agenda that includes full funding for state veterans’ programs and a proposed increase in the Iowa veterans’ property tax exemption to $5,000 of assessed value from the current $1,852. The agenda also seeks to allow disabled veterans with a 50 percent or greater service-connected disability rating to acquire an Iowa disabled veteran license plate at no cost for one personal vehicle.