On business: Veterans in transition — where to go for help
April 19, 2013
Veterans returning to civilian life after serving active duty often encounter difficulties. Job openings can be scarce and many don't know where or how to begin to secure those jobs that are available. A little help goes a long way for these veterans. Transferable skills, skills that can be translated from military life into a civilian setting, need to be identified and offered up in a well-crafted résumé. Several sources offer assistance not only for job-hunting purposes but beyond. Veterans have proven their ability to be reliable, accurate and skilled workers and need a job to help them regain their lives once they return home.
Fred Koenig, a veterans representative in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of my former co-workers said, "Finding a veteran services officer is a great advantage. They advocate for all veterans seeking services and benefits they're entitled to." He also mentions the Transition Assistance Program. TAP has been recently redesigned with major improvements and updated material. Now called Transition GPS, (Goals, Plans, Success) the program is designed to provide a comprehensive, modular and outcome based approach to assist veterans re-entering civilian life. Service members are evaluated prior to separation from the military. The focus is on employment, higher education, technical and career training and tools and tips for business. The redesign was created in response to the large number of veterans returning home after the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and facing high unemployment rates. For more information on Transition GPS, an interagency effort, visit http://www.turbotap.org/register.tpp.
Lance Poinsett, veteran services representative for El Dorado County Veteran Affairs, sees veterans in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesdays. Call him at 530-573-7955, ext. 5892, to schedule an appointment. He provides an invaluable service for veterans in our community and can provide one-on-one counsel. He agrees that a veteran services officer is important. Poinsett's goal is to assess your specific needs and make referrals that are tailored just for you. "It's for the families too," he says. "We help vets navigate a complex system and try to simplify the process as much as possible. This provides stress relief for many. Reintegrating into civilian life can be traumatic." Poinsett says that every veteran comes from a unique vantage point, with each having a different experience. He calls to attention the fact that many veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as other health-related issues. "These are barriers to employment and must be addressed before a serious job search effort can be launched." Health benefits for vets are needs based and assessed by income so not everyone qualifies but Poinsett says that "Those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan theater of operations are entitled to five years of VA health benefits if they have completed a two-year active duty commitment or if they are a reservist called to active duty and received a discharge that is other than dishonorable." If you are struggling with health issues, you should see a veteran's representative to be evaluated. This is especially true if your health problems are the result of your service. Poinsett can help connect veterans to the right people, places and services, aiding in your successful transition to civilian life.
Veterans are entitled to unemployment benefits, contrary to what some believe. Those who provide a DD214 and have been discharged under honorable conditions can file for unemployment insurance for ex-service members (UCX). They are entitled to receive compensation in the same manner as anyone else. Special handling is necessary for the initial filing and it's done by telephone. Call 800-300-5616 to set an appointment or use the ASK EDD feature on http://www.edd.ca.gov to schedule the filing of your UCX claim. The Employment Development Department provides priority services to eligible veterans. Visit http://www.edd.ca.gov/jobs_and_Training/Veteran_Eligibility.htm for information.
Another online resource for Veterans is http://www.military.com. This website is teamed with Monster.com and will help you stock your job search toolbox. Free military business cards are also offered on this site. These are great to use for networking purposes.
— Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional who has worked in the employment field for more than 20 years. She is a trainer coach and job developer. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.