Warrior Gateway Supporting Student Veterans of America at National Conference

Members of the Warrior Gateway team will be attending “The 4th Annual National Conference presented by Student Veterans of America,” December 8-10, 2011 in Las Vegas, NV.  This will be a great opportunity to connect with student veterans, their families, and the organizations and institutions assisting them.  To see the event schedule, register, and learn more information, click here.

Opening remarks and guest speakers include: Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Col. David Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Kevin Schmiegel, Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The conference theme is “Combating Veteran Unemployment,” which is a predominant issue right now for veterans nationwide.  One of the conference highlights will be the career fair on Friday, which will involve Student Veterans of America partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and RecruitMilitary to bring employers from across many different sectors together that want to hire veterans.  Top tier employers will be in attendance, such as veteran friendly employers Booz Allen Hamilton and General Electric.  Attendees are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resume and employers are asked to bring national and local job opportunities.

We will provide a live feed from the event through social media, so stay in touch!  If you are attending, or know someone who is, please connect with us. We are excited to network with as many student veterans, military families, and other organizations as we can.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and join the conversation!

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Warrior Gateway will be supporting veterans continuing higher education and employment next week at the 4th Annual Student Veterans of America National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  http://www.warriorgateway.info/?p=2958

Sea of Goodwill Series: Navigating the Sea of Goodwill

This week’s guest blogger is Bill Salesky, a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and an enlisted member of the Air Force Reserve. In this blog, Bill shares his thoughts on the resources needed for the transition home.

Like many other Americans, I know those who have been deployed overseas – they are friends; they are classmates; they are colleagues.  One needs only turn on the television or read a newspaper to see the stories about service men and women on their second or third tour of duty.  Some are active duty, some are reservists like me, and some are National Guard.  What they all have in common is that they left their families and “normal lives” for months at a time to answer America’s call to duty.

Upon their return, veterans and their families have a variety of needs as they work to re-integrate into each local community.  The navigation of the 400,000 nationwide organizations supporting and providing resources to the veteran community is no simple task.  An example of how overwhelming it can be to find a specific resource across the extensive amount of resources can be illustrated through a veteran’s search of the phrase “post traumatic stress disorder.”  This disorder is one of the more common afflictions after military service abroad.  This key phrase yields over 5 million results and does not quickly get the veteran to the answers or resources he/she needs.

To better support our veterans and their families, it is imperative to have a platform dedicated to nothing more than navigating the vast array of resources and services available to their needs.  There needs to be one additional resource which is the connection and portal to link the other 400,000 resources while addressing the needs of the veteran community.

Bill Salesky

Sr. Airman, U.S. Air Force Reserve

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The struggles of female veterans

This week in the news there were a number of articles describing the challenges faced by recent OEF/OIF female veterans.

Former Army Pvt. Margaret Ortiz holds a photo of herself from Iraq in her room at the women’s shelter in Long Beach, Calif. Image courtesy of the AP

Former Army Pvt. Margaret Ortiz holds a photo of herself from Iraq in her room at the women’s shelter in Long Beach, Calif. Image courtesy of the AP

First, the AP has written up a nice article giving some detail on the situation of female homeless veterans. Female homeless veterans face increased risks in that they are usually younger and often have children in their care. Also, in many housing programs like VA-run homeless shelters, only men are eligible to be taken in.

“People think we’re just coming out of the military and we should have our stuff together,” said Tiffany Belle, 33, a former Navy sailor who served in the Philippines after 9-11 and lives with Ortiz at the U.S. Vets program. “It gets really hard. Some people don’t know where to go, what to do.”

Next, also from the AP, is an article about the other challenges even non-homeless female veterans face. Upon coming home, male veterans are clapped on the back, have drinks bought for them at bars, and are generally welcomed into an established network of support and thanks. For female veterans, fitting back in and being warmly welcomed often isn’t so easy. Common challenges like coping with past sexual harassment, PTSD, and a lack of recognition of their service to the country can create a sense of isolation during the process of transitioning back to civilian life.

“What worries me is that women themselves still don’t see themselves as veterans, so they don’t get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women, so we still have a long ways to go,” said Murray, D-Wash.

Warrior Gateway partners with Campaign for Healthy Homecoming

The Warrior Gateway Project is pleased to announce that it is joining the Campaign for Healthy Homecoming. The Campaign is a broad group of concerned organizations and individuals working to ensure that exiting service members receive a healthy homecoming. To do so they are devising a national-level plan that will lay out the ways in which veteran service organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits should assist exiting service members in their transition to civilian life.

Since this is a goal nearly identical to that of the Warrior Gateway, we are delighted to join the Campaign for Healthy Homecoming. We support the creation and eventual implementation of a plan entailing healthy homecomings for all exiting military. Click here to learn more about the Campaign.

Wounded Warrior Program aids civilian transition

The AP has a great article on the efforts of the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program to help wounded veterans – particularly those with mental/psychological issues – transition to civilian life. The Wounded Warrior Program (aka AW2) focuses on enabling wounded warriors to find and maintain a successful career in the civilian workplace. To do so, AW2 has worked with employers to educate them on the realities of conditions like PTSD or TBI, letting them know that veterans with ‘invisible wounds’ “might not be able to work regular hours or might startle too easily, suffer outbursts or require time off for counseling.”

Army officials say many new veterans suffering from PTSD and brain injuries struggle to find and keep a civilian job. Advocates say many employers don’t know how to accommodate veterans with these “invisible wounds” and worry that they cannot do the job and might even “go postal” someday.

“There is a stigma attached to the invisible wounds, and it’s largely borne out of ignorance,” said David Autry, a spokesman for Disabled American Veterans. “There’s a fear that somebody will go off the deep end.”

The program has also worked with individual veterans who need assistance juggling the transition to life in the workplace and the struggle with combat-related psychological disorders. The article tells the story of Richard Martin who, with the help of AW2 and his employer, has devised a number of ingenious devices to help him cope with his PTSP and TBIs in the workplace.

Richard Martin keeps a rearview mirror on his desk to prevent co-workers from startling him in his cubicle. The walls are papered with sticky notes to help him remember things, and he wears noise-canceling headphones to keep his easily distracted mind focused.

Martin, an Army veteran who was nearly blown up on three occasions in Iraq, once feared that post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury would keep him from holding down a civilian job, despite years of corporate experience and an MBA.

“Here I am with this background and I’m having problems with my memory,” said Martin, a 48-year-old engineer and former National Guard major who now works for Northrop Grumman, helping to devise ways to thwart remote-detonated bombs.

The defense contractor recruited him through its hiring program for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The company consulted occupational nurses on how to help him do his job without becoming overly nervous when someone, say, drops a heavy object. Martin figured out other tricks, like the headphones, on his own.

This is a great example of veterans, military programs like AW2, and employers like Northrop Grumman working together to overcome the issues associated with military-to-civilian transitions and invisible wounds.