Show cover of Service Before Self Podcast

Service Before Self Podcast

Service Before Self Podcast: Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services tackles current issues impacting veterans and their families. From challenges transitioning from military service into civilian careers to addressing the unique health needs of veterans, no subject is off limits. Join us as we present pragmatic solutions to ensure that veterans and families succeed in the communities where they live.

Tracks

Episode 19: Veterans helping Veterans become Entrepreneurs with Colonel Scott Jensen, National Veteran Small Business Coalition
In today’s episode, Col. Sam Whitehurst (Ret.), your host, is continuing a conversation that was started several months ago regarding the opportunities that are available for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses who want to become entrepreneurs and small businesses owners.   This time, Col. Sam welcomes Col. Scott Jensen (Ret.) to talk about the opportunities for Federal Contracting, which has the amount of $30 billion a year set aside in contracting for veterans to own small businesses.   Key Takeaways: [3:45] Col. Scott shares his story. [7:07] Col. Scott talks about who he moved to the non-profit space. [9:23] NVSBC occupies a unique place in supporting veterans and Col. Scott explains why. [11:56] Getting started and sustaining success are two of the challenges of the first stages of a veteran entrepreneur. [14:28] Col. Scott talks about the advocacy piece. [15:37] What is the greatest challenge that veteran entrepreneurs have to face? [18:15] Col. Sam stresses the importance of networking. [18:59] Col. Scott shares the work of NVSNC in helping veterans overcome some of the barriers to networking and to motivate them to increase their social capital. [23:10] Col. Scott speaks about current policy changes that need to take place or are taking place now to support veteran entrepreneurs. [27:10] Col. Scott talks about the certification process to be in business with the Federal Government. [29:40] Col. Scott highlights the importance of having the VA certification. [33:30] Col Scott shares his words of encouragement for all veterans. [36:43] The Dixon Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live.   Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram   Listen to Episode 015: Empowering the Entrepreneurial Dreams of Veterans with Blake Hogan Learn more about Col. Scott Jensen (Ret.) Visit NVSBC   Tweetables and quotes: “What is unique about NVSBC is that all its focus is in supporting veteran businesses in the federal marketplace.”   “It is critical for any business, but particularly in federal contracting, to realize that is not just bureaucracy, it is people, and you have to know who the people are and you have to be willing to talk to them.”   “If you are yet not certified, go to the VA right now and get certified.”   “Veterans make very successful entrepreneurs.”  
38:12 07/22/2022
Episode 018: The Villanova Experience for Veterans with Michael Brown
Colonel retired Sam Whitehurst, your host, welcomes Michael Brown to today’s episode. Michael Brown is the Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Service at Villanova University. Michael shares how Villanova provides opportunities and a path to success to veterans, recognizing the challenges they sometimes face when they pursue a higher education track. Michael also shares what “The Villanova Experience” is about.   Key Takeaways: [6:12] Why is Villanova such a great fit for members leaving active duty and for veterans? [9:53] Michael explains why the military experience is a great foundation. [12:07] Student veterans bring so much to the College Campus, their experiences enrich the community, affecting positively both teachers and students. [15:04] How is Villanova helping students overcome challenges? [17:22] Michael speaks about his passion for creating a Villanova Experience for veterans. [19:52] Villanova works toward re-establishing the sense of community and belonging for veterans. [21:18] Sam and Michael talk about the School of Nursing at Villanova. [26:19] Michael shares the most important aspect to focus on in regard to the GI Bill. [29:16] Michael encourages organizations, institutions, and corporations to do the best they can do to go above and beyond to just saying “Thank you for your service”.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook, Twitter, and  Instagram   Listen to Episode 016: Ending Veteran Homelessness. Part 1 with Bruce Buckley and Episode 017: Ending Veteran Homelessness. Part 2 with Bruce Buckley   Tweetables and quotes: “Higher education is a great space for transitioning members and veterans to decompress, learn about themselves and their career aspirations while creating a network.”   “Always look for opportunities to continue to build yourself.”   “We should strive to be life-long learners.”  
33:38 06/03/2022
Episode 017: Ending Veteran Homelessness. Part 2 with Bruce Buckley
Colonel retired Sam Whitehurst, your host, welcomes Bruce Buckley to the second part of an insightful conversation about Veteran homelessness. Bruce is the CEO of Soldier On; he is one of the leading subject matter experts on the challenges impacting homeless veterans. Bruce has been dedicating his career to finding solutions to assist veterans and their families who find themselves in that situation.   In today’s episode, Bruce keeps sharing the work done by Soldier On which is a great model that needs to be replicated across the country. He talks about how they dealt with the pandemic at its beginning and the great help they received from the Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families (SSVF). Bruce dives deep into the crucial importance to Veterans of belonging to a community and he highlights the spectacular job Soldier On’s staff does to make it all happen. By the end of this episode, Bruce shares his distress caused by the potential closing of the VA Medical Center in Leeds, Massachusetts, you can help prevent this from happening by raising your voice! (links below)   Key Takeaways: [3:19] Bruce shares some of the lessons learned from the pandemic. [5:58] Bruce talks about how fortunate they were to have a good relationship with VA Western Massachusetts. [8:47] Bruce speaks about the role that the Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families (SSVF) plays in Soldier On. [12:04] Bruce explains the vital importance of being part of a community for Veterans and how the staff is a very big resource apart from the housing. [12:39] Bruce shares on the peer program. [14:49] Is there a spike in veteran homelessness? [16:05] Bruce talks about their support in regards to financial literacy. [17:32] What are Soldier On’s plans for the future? [20:09] The VA recently issued a report announcing they will shut some facilities down in order to relocate them; how does this impact veterans who need those services? [26:42] Colonel Sam shares his experience visiting the Soldier On Program. [27:30] Bruce shows his gratitude to all the staff that makes the program work. [29:40] Colonel Sam shares some additional information about the potential closing of the VA Medical Centre in Leeds Massachusetts.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram   Listen to “Episode 16: Ending Veteran Homelessness. Part 1 with Bruce Buckley”   Make sure your voice is heard about the VA's recommendation to close the Northhampton, Leeds, VA Medical Center. Please contact your Congressperson or Senator or reach out to Secretary Patrick Murphy, nominee to be the chair of the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission, and let them know how you feel.   Soldier On   Tweetables and quotes: “The more we build the more communities want to recreate what we built.”   “Soldier On’s plan is to keep on listening to the needs of Veterans and their families and to stay strong in the work towards stopping veteran homelessness, one veteran at a time.”   “If they close the VA, it will become a ghost town of about 40 buildings.”  
33:53 05/02/2022
Episode 016: Ending Veteran Homelessness. Part 1 with Bruce Buckley
Colonel retired Sam Whitehurst, your host, welcomes Bruce Buckley to the first part of an insightful conversation about Veteran homeless. Bruce is the CEO of Soldier On; he is one of the leading subject matter experts on the challenges impacting homeless veterans. Bruce has been dedicating his career to finding solutions to assist veterans and their families who find themselves in that situation. In today’s episode, Bruce is also sharing the challenges that veterans face in finding affordable housing; he tackles many misconceptions about homelessness and shares the outstanding work that Soldier On does to support male and female veterans and their families.   Key Takeaways: [5:38] Bruce talks about the history of Soldier On. [9:04] Bruce talks about how Soldier On operates every day helping veterans to find housing as well as all support services they need. [9:45] Soldier On provides veterans with transitional and permanent housing, as well as supporting programs. [11:25] Soldier On goes where the veterans are. [13:34] Who are the homeless veterans? Bruce describes how his perspective on the homeless changed over time. [15:30] Bruce discusses the preconceived notion of homelessness. [16:49] Bruce shares the crucial need for a network. [18:14] Bruce speaks about the role that finding permanent housing and providing supportive programs plays in helping homeless veterans. [22:48] What are the services Soldier On provides to women veterans? [27:31] Soldier On opened 38 full units for female veterans. [30:55] Colonel Sam closes the first part of an amazing conversation with Bruce Buckley.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram   Tweetables and quotes: “Soldier On doesn’t have offices, they work where the veterans are.”   “Soldier On gives Veterans what they need to help them get back on their feet.”   “Many homeless veterans can be found in jails as well as being part of what we could call a middle-income family.”   “Homelessness is a result of losing your social network, your support system, and as a result losing your community.”   “We all need a community.”   “Giving a homeless person a key to a permanent house is just not the solution.”  
33:19 04/14/2022
Episode 015: Empowering the Entrepreneurial Dreams of Veterans with Blake Hogan
Welcome to the first episode of the second season of Service Before Self. Colonel Sam Whitehurst is accompanied by Blake Hogan, CEO of Bunker Labs, to today’s episode. They are talking about the first of the three pillars of work at Dixon Center. These pillars are Work with Purpose, Honor, and Live with Hope.   Blake is diving deep into the meaning of working with purpose. He is talking about some of the opportunities available to transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans who want to become business owners. He is also addressing some of the challenges such as navigating the process to get some of the capital required to start doing a business, not only financially but also referring to the human capital including the needed connections to start the journey as a successful entrepreneur.   Key Takeaways: [1:32] Colonel Sam Whitehurst introduces himself and his role at the Dixon Center. [3:13] The three pillars of work at Dixon Center: Work with Purpose, Honor, and Live with Hope. [4:17] Colonel Sam talks about the eight dimensions of wellness. [7:55] Blake shares what Bunker Labs is doing to support veterans entrepreneurs. [8:58] Blake talks about the importance of networks for veteran entrepreneurs. [10:06] Blake shares his background and how he became part of Bunker Labs. [13:09] Bunker Labs has a partnership with We Work. [15:30] JP Morgan also collaborates with Bunker Labs. [15:55] Blake talks about the Ambassador Programm. [17:18] How can you get involved? [18:48] Sam emphasizes the importance of camaraderie. [20:31] Why becoming an entrepreneur is so attractive to veterans.  [23:11] Blake shares the story of a couple of successful veteran families who became entrepreneurs. [28:33] There are a number of veterans that rely on personal savings for the initial start of their business; Bunker Labs assists veterans on the initial start-up too by connecting people with the right financial institutions. [33:05] Blake shares his call to action: Become part of the Bunker Labs community. [35:07] Sam shares his call to action: Reach out and connect with Bunker Labs!   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram   Learn about the Veterans and their families who started their businesses along with Bunker Labs Bunker Labs Check out the products of two successful entrepreneurs:  Brandon Hunter funded Freelance Corporal a fintech product to teach financial literacy. The magical order of the Brave Knights, Colleen Marchi   Tweetables and quotes: “The three pillars of work at Dixon Center are Work with Purpose, Honor, and Live with Hope.”   “The number one determinant of success for entrepreneurs is around networks.”   “Your financials lead to opportunities or challenges in life.”   “People become entrepreneurs because they want to do something that matters and serves a broader mission.”  
33:05 03/04/2022
Episode 014: Challenges Faced By Disabled Veterans with Louis Orslene, Office of Disability Employment, Department of Labor
Welcome to another episode of Service Before Self Podcast. In today’s episode, the focus is on an issue that does not receive the visibility and attention it deserves: the challenges that disabled veterans face in finding meaningful employment.   When thinking about disabled veterans it is common to refer to those who were wounded in combat, but that is only part of the picture, there are 4.7 million veterans and 20% of them have some type of service-connected disability and its level varies across this population. There are many challenges that disabled veterans are facing but most of them are related to difficulties trying to find employment. Additionally, employers and community-based organizations struggle with understanding the resources and policies that are in place to support them in hiring disabled Americans, including disabled veterans.    Today, Sam Whitehurst, your host, talks with Louis Orslene, Supervisory Policy Advisor in the Office of Disability and Employment Policy from the Department of Labor, an agency within DOL that is focused on helping employers and organizations support not only disabled veterans, but disabled Americans writ large. Louis is sharing some of the policies, programs, and practices that are creating opportunities for those that are disabled and how organizations and communities can more effectively integrate those with disabilities, including disabled veterans, into the workforce.   Key Takeaways: [7:19] Louis talks about the Office of Disability Employment Policy. [11:40] Louis talks about the veterans who use the job accommodation network. [12:05] Employers have to be prepared for the inclusion of veterans. [14:10] Louis talks about the challenges veterans face in reaching their full potential in and out of the workplace. [17:30] Louis talks about the employment barriers for people with disabilities and the three major reasons. [21:42] Louis talks about the main mental challenges and impairments caused by COVID-19. [22:34] Louis presents the Mental Health Tool Kit the Office of Disability Employment Policy has implemented. [24:30] Louis explains how many people with disabilities and mental health conditions have been benefited during the pandemic. [25:40] What are some of the ways that ODEP could help local leaders address the challenges that disabled employees might have in the workforce? [30:18] Louis shares tips for people looking to help someone with a disability who is looking for employment or an employer who is looking for that talent. [33:44] Sam talks about the Clear2Connect Coalition   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Tweetables and quotes: “The path of isolation among veterans usually begins with poor employment opportunities.”   “Veterans tend not to relate very well to the word disability since there is a stigma that relates it to a weakness.”   “Many people with disabilities and mental health conditions have really benefited during the pandemic.”  
35:36 06/17/2021
Episode 013: National Salute to America’s Heroes with Mickey Markoff
Welcome to another episode of Service Before Self. Today, Mickey Markoff joins the podcast. He is the Executive Producer of the National Salute to America’s Heroes. The mission of the National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by HYUNDAI is to bring back the true meaning and spirit of Memorial Day weekend and pay tribute to all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our freedom. It showcases the capability of all military members and also features some of the equipment and technology that makes the American military so remarkable.   What makes this event so special is that it brings service members, veterans, their families, and the families of those who have fallen in service together with Americans who might not have an affiliation or a true understanding of what it means to serve or to be a veteran. The goal of this event is to close the civil-military divide and to create understanding and connection for those who have served and those who haven’t.   Key Takeaways: [2:30] Colonel Sam shares the meaning of Memorial Day for him and accompanies it with a personal story. [6:09] Mickey shares his excitement in sharing the true meaning of Memorial Day. [6:46] Mickey shares the meaning and mission of the National Salute to America’s Heroes. [9:18] Mickey emphasizes the importance of humanizing Memorial Day. [10:38] Mickey shares the history of the National Salute to America’s Heroes. [13:30] Mickey talks about the great team that makes the National Salute to America’s Heroes possible and awesome. [15:10] What is Mickey’s long-term vision? [15:58] What is the Salute 365 Initiative about? [20:30] Mickey talks about the current isolation and the lack of humanization of military servers. [22:04] How can people participate in the event? [23:35] Watch Gold Star Tribute, a one-hour television show produced by Peter Berg. [28:02] Colonel Sam shares the highlights of the conversation with Mickey, encourages the audience to connect with a veteran on Memorial Day and to listen to his/her story.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   National Salute to America’s Heroes Salute 365 Initiative   Tweetables and quotes: “Seek out veterans and encourage them to share their story, connect with the families of the fallen, and ask them to share their story, and through active listening, you will discover the true meaning of Memorial Day.”   “Freedom isn’t free, there are a lot of people sacrificing their lives for freedom to exist.”   “Memorial Day is a celebration of how military servers lived and served.”
29:43 05/18/2021
Episode 012: Assisting Organizations and Communities Address the Evolving Needs of Veterans and Their Families with Colonel Duncan S. Milne.
This episode spotlights the work of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services. An organization that connects organizations and communities with existing programs and services that transform the lives of veterans and their families. We discuss Dixon Center’s approach to supporting veterans and their families in the communities where we live through our network of private and public, civic, and community-based partners. We also share how the pandemic has accelerated the evolution of veterans’ needs, not diminished them.    This episode is also a moment of reflection; after almost a year, it is now a great time to look back and see what we learned and also to share the goals for the future of Service Before Self Podcast.   Colonel Sam Whitehurst, your host, is accompanied by Colonel Duncan S. Milne, President of Dixon Center, in today’s special episode, where he is sharing his experience and background in the Marine Corps and how he came to serve veterans and their families at Dixon Center.   Key Takeaways: [3:30] Sam shares the lessons learned from eight months of the Service Before Self Podcast. [6:59] Sam talks about the role that Dixon Center plays in supporting veterans and their families. [8:35] Colonel Duncan shares about his background in the Marine Corps and how he started to serve veterans and their families at Dixon Center. [13:26] Colonel Duncan talks about the mission of Dixon Center. [18:50] Veterans living in different states face different challenges. [19:43] Colonel Duncan talks about reinforcing existing programs to address the evolving needs of veterans and their families. [21:28] Colonel Duncan shares how Dixon Center has leveraged the ability to attend to the needs of veterans during the pandemic. [24:30] Colonel Duncan addresses the crushing isolation that veterans and serving members are facing every day. [25:20] What does the future hold for Dixon Center? [29:20] If you see a veteran out there, have a conversation with him or her. [30:20] Colonel Sam talks about the work of FEDCAP. [31:27] Colonel Sam shares about the meaning of Dixon Center’s name.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Learn more about Colonel Duncan S. Milne FEDCAP   Tweetables and quotes: “Dixon Center’s noble purpose is to make sure that people who have served this country can transition back into civilian society and consistently succeed in the communities where they choose to live.”   “The pandemic gave Dixon Center an opportunity to step back to what was being done proudly and focus on not just the challenges but the opportunities that were presented.”   “There is a crushing isolation that our veterans and service members face every day.”
32:56 04/23/2021
Episode 011: Veterans and Their Families Succeeding in Their Communities with Jim Beamesderfer
In today’s episode, Colonel Sam Whitehurst welcomes someone who has been a national leader on addressing the challenges that face service members, military spouses, veterans and their families when they transition from active-duty back into their civilian communities.. Today’s guest is Jim Beamesderfer, Vice President, Veterans Initiatives at  Prudential.   In this episode, Jim discusses initiatives Prudential has undertaken to address veteran unemployment and underemployment, creating opportunities for military spouses, and enhancing the financial wellness of veterans and their families.. Jim will share the service model he and his team have developed that combines the reach, resources, and values of a company like Prudential and the ideas, influence, and actions of national nonprofits like Dixon Center with service providers at the community level to ensure that veterans and their families succeed in the communities where they live. And lastly, Jim provides his view and insights on what the future holds for veterans as we look toward the end of the pandemic.   Key Takeaways: [2:18] What are some of the obstacles that military spouses face when they are trying to have their own career? [4:41] Jim shares about his background, experiences, his own transition, and how he became involved in veteran’s causes. [9:34] Jim talks about the evolution of the program at Prudential. [13:30] Jim asks himself: “What can we do to get military talent credentialed?” [14:05] Jim talks about the matter of military spouses while their husbands are on active duty. [19:03] Prudential went a step farther to help military families. [20:36] Jim talks about the initiative called Prudential Pathways. [25:15] The importance of culture in transitioning service members. [26:45] Jim talks about Prudential’s several partners. [27:45] Prudential works to improve the local communities in which their offices are established. [30:35] The value of awareness. [32:40] Jim talks about the challenges and opportunities he foresees for veterans and their families in the near future. [36:25] Jim talks about the military demographics and how the existing programs are reflecting those demographics.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Prudential   Tweetables and quotes:   “Companies and employers often have trouble finding veterans to employ.”   “Military spouses are the most loyal employees.”   “Most military spouses want an opportunity for a career.”   “Budgeting, debt managing, and understanding financing are key for every American.”   “The needs of veterans and their families are constantly evolving but the assistance in navigating their financial future is always present.”  
40:34 03/18/2021
Episode 010: Breaking the Barrier Between Civilians and Military Leaders with David Hamilton
Colonel Sam Whitehurst welcomes you to another episode of Service Before Self. Today’s guest is David Hamilton, founder and CEO of America’s Future Series, a national speaker series that brings together business and military leaders to discuss issues involving national security.   America’s Future Series is also, directly and indirectly, impacting the lives of veterans and their families, by raising money to support charities that go to veterans and their families, as well as creating conversations and connections between people from different sides of the civil-military divide while delivering opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs.   While the military, as an institution, is held in very high regard by the public, many people perceive that military service is either mentally or physically damaging to those who serve. Based on his long experience with employers and veterans, David Hamilton tackles this issue head-on and highlights the resiliency inherent to veterans; he exposes common misperceptions about veteran employees, and how veterans can create an organizational culture that enhances a company’s bottom line.   In today’s episode, David also discusses how he is creating a space for veteran entrepreneurs to showcase the entrepreneurial spirit that is represented in so many American veterans.   Key Takeaways: [4:37] David shares how he started his work in America’s Future Series. [11:05] Making existing programs more impactful. [11:35] How is America’s Future Series attacking the civil-military divide? [13:16] David talks about certain stereotypes in regards to veterans. [16:38] A good job is one that is meaningful for the employee. [17:30] David shares the story of a friend. [19:01] David shares how work needs to be done in both the veterans and the civilian mindsets. [19:57] Sam talks about the work that Dixon Center does for organizations to create a culture that will attract veterans. [20:54] America’s Future Series as a connecting device. [23:27] Sam shares some statistics about veteran entrepreneurs in contrast to civilians. [24:36] What is the root cause why veterans are not doing as much in terms of entrepreneurism as their civilian peers or past generations? [28:33] David highlights other events that America’s Future Series will bring. [33:08] Sam talks about the role of Dixon Center in supporting veteran entrepreneurs in starting their own business.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Contact David Hamilton personally through America’s Future Series   Tweetables and quotes:   “You don’t necessarily have to serve to have a passion for supporting those who have served.”   “Best companies develop leaders that develop others.”   “A good job is one that is meaningful for the employee.”   “There is a lot that the civilian world can do to understand the mindset of the military servers.”   “Twenty-five percent of World War II veterans came back to America and started a business.”
33:47 02/19/2021
Episode 009: Enabling Success for All Veterans with John Lowry
Sam Whitehurst welcomes Mr. John Lowry to today’s episode. Mr. Lowry is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veteran Employment and Training. He is a Marine Corps veteran and has served more than 15 years on active duty and an additional 10 years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He has worked extensively and successfully in the private sector.  Mr. Lowry brings a very unique perspective to the conversation about military service transitioning into the civilian workforce after being on both sides of this relevant matter.   Key Takeaways: [2:35] Sam shares the purpose and mission of the Dixon Center. [3:45] Mr. John Lowry shares how his years of active service in the military has shaped the work he does today supporting veterans and their families. [6:50] Mr. Lowry talks about the biggest challenges that veterans face to enter the workforce. [10:10] The earlier a serving member starts thinking about transition the better. [10:57] Why should employers hire veterans? [13:31] Veterans do better in the civilian workforce. [16:00] Veterans are not physically or mentally broken, that is not the dominant story. [17:46] What role DOL plays in helping connect employers to veterans. [20:45] How DOL helps veterans match their skill careers. [25:33] Mr. Lowry talks about the problem of underemployment. [29:22] Mr. Lowry shares statistics and information about training programs. [33:10] How has the pandemic affected the work at DOL? [35:07] Employers want to hold on to their veterans, especially through challenging times. [36:46] Mr. Lowry talks about the most recent projects DOL has launched. [44:22] Sam emphasizes the importance of apprenticeship and credentialing.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   DOL VETS Regional Veterans Employment Coordination Comprehensive Employers Guide to Hire Veterans Transition Assistance Program Credentialing Opportunities Online Apprenticeship.gov DoD Skill Bridge Program Transition Employment System for Military Spouses Hire Vets Medallion Program   Tweetables and quotes:   “Every year 200,000 service members transition into the civilian workforce.”   “A poor transition causes long-lasting effects.”   “DOL VETS’ vision is for all veterans to reach their full potential in their workplace.”   “American veterans are one of the most capable and resilient workforces we have in the country.”   “If you want smart and adaptable people, hiring veterans is the right thing to do. It is a good business decision and you will be rewarded for it.”
46:26 12/18/2020
Episode 008: How to Bridge the Gap Between Military Service and Civilian Employment with Fred Drummond
In this episode, Sam Whitehurst, your host, continues with a series of podcasts focused on programs that assist military members to gain, not only a job, but a career that provides them wages or salaries that allow them to support their families, careers that can provide affordable health care options, and have benefit packages that allow veterans to plan forward and invest into their future.   Today’s episode is not only going to be focused on service members transitioning but also on those employers who want to connect with and hire veterans, those who want to create a “pipeline” of veteran talent into their company.   Military members offer leadership, a strong work ethic, experience and knowledge about working as a member of a team, and the ability to adapt to new and changing environments, but how can those skills be taken from military service to combine them with the civilian workforce experience and training?   Sam welcomes Mr. Fred Drummond to today’s episode; he is the Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense for Force Education and Training at The Department of Defense SkillBridge which partners with private industries to help veterans find jobs, but also for companies to find the workforce that they need for their industries. Listen to this episode to find all the information every service member who is thinking about transitioning needs to have.   Key Takeaways: [3:17] Sam introduces Mr. Fred Drummond in his role at the DoD. [3:48] Mr. Drummond shares his own military experience as a veteran and his own transition that led him to his current position in the DoD. [7:30] Mr. Drummond talks about SkillBridge and how it supports transitioning service members to connect with employers. [11:32] Mr. Drummond shares about SkillBridge’s partnerships and how this benefits veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. [17:09] SkillBridge offers flexibility for service members to participate in programs that are not necessarily located in their region. [17:59] SkillBridge encourages off-base training. [20:54] Mr. Drummond talks about the possibility of extending the SkillBridge program to other federal departments. [23:07] SkillBridge also supports veterans’ spouses by providing training and assisting them in finding jobs. [27:21] Mr. Drummond shares the first steps to follow for companies who want to create a “pipeline” of veteran talent. [29:34] SkillBridge offers 450 to 500 programs. [31:30] Mr. Drummond explains other programs SkillBridge provides to military service members and their families. [34:05] SkillBridge is the most cost-effective program. [39:35] Mr. Drummond gives his recommendation for a smoother transition into the civilian workforce.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   SkillBridge DoD Career Ready   Tweetables and quotes:   “What makes SkillBridge so effective is that it helps smooth the transition process, exposing veterans to civilian skills that are going to make them competitive in the job market, it does not replace the acquired military skills but enhances them.”   “SkillBridge allows service members the flexibility to participate in a program that is not in their local region.”   “SkillBridge is a program that aims to assist not only the military servers but also their families.”   “One certain thing about the military is that everyone transitions and retires.”
48:03 12/04/2020
Episode 007: It Is Never Too Early to Think About Your Future After the Military with Anne Meree Craig
Sam Whitehurst, your host, addresses in today’s episode the matter of transitioning from military services to civilian society, a matter that was also discussed in previous podcasts.   It is never too early to think about your future after the military, but it is often easier said than done. Service members usually start thinking about transitioning once they are already “in the breach”; why do they wait so long? The struggle of what will be the next career is shared by many military members. The COMMIT Foundation is an organization that assists service members in figuring out the answer to that question and finding the best next thing to do that is going to bring value to their lives and help them to find their purpose.   In today’s episode, Sam is talking with Anne Meree Craig, the co-founder and CEO of The COMMIT Foundation; she shares her story and describes how the foundation helps high-performance service members find their purpose and become contributing members of their communities.   Key Takeaways: [2:51] Sam shares his story of transitioning into civilian society. [3:49] Anne Meree talks about herself and the beginnings of The COMMIT Foundation. [6:38] What does high-performance service members actually mean? [7:30] How do you translate your skills from military services to the civilian world? [10:11] Sam talks about his own story of feeling lost at the beginning of his transition. [13:38] What sets The COMMIT Foundation apart from other organizations that help veterans? [20:06] Success does not mean the same to all veterans. [20:55] Anne Meree talks about The COMMIT Foundation’s new initiatives. [25:50] Anne Meree shares how they are addressing the most important and current issues to tackle, like racism and integration. [28:25] Anne Meree talks about the “Let’s Talk Race” initiative. [30:05] The military is a great example of diversity, inclusion, and integration. [32:25] Anne Meree shares her thoughts in regards to what can be the best call to action.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   The COMMIT Foundation   Tweetables and quotes: “Quality of service is so much more important than the quantity served.”   “The COMMIT Foundation created a space that provides military servers to remember who they are, what their values are, to help them assess where their strengths are and what served them well in the military and needs to be translated into their current lives.”   “For some veterans, success after service can mean picking up their kids from school since they have been gone for so long.”   “The military is a great example of diversity, inclusion, and integration.”
36:57 11/27/2020
Episode 006: A Talent Management System for Veterans with Matthew P. Donovan
Along with the many programs and organizations that are dedicated to serving veterans and their families, there are also several federal agencies that are instrumental in ensuring that veterans successfully reintegrate back into their communities. The VA is the first agency that everyone thinks about, but there is also the Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development, just to name a few. The Department of Defense is often overlooked since it is considered to function only to currently serving military members, and then the focus usually goes to VA when it is a matter related to veterans. The future success of veterans and their families actually starts when they are still serving, that is the reason why this success is rooted in the Department of Defense, with its various personnel programs, including education, training, and health care.   Sam Whitehurst, your host, welcomes Matthew P. Donovan to today’s episode Mr. Donovan is the person in charge of the seamless transition between the DoD and the VA. Mr. Donovan is the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and he serves as the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary of Defense for force readiness; force management; health affairs; National Guard and Reserve component affairs; education and training; and military and civilian personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and quality of life matters.   In this episode, Mr. Donovan acknowledges how DoD manages his personnel is sometimes an imperfect system and he also shares their strategy to address these imperfections as well as some recent successes in keeping pace with the evolving needs of military members, veterans, and their families.   Key Takeaways: [4:18] Mr. Donovan shares how he started in the air force and what brought him into the role he has in the present. [11:25] The importance of talent management. [12:33] Mr. Donavan shares how they develop a vision and a strategy to meet it. [16:20] Mr. Donovan talks about the idea of granting serving members with on- and off-ramps in order to adjust to different life circumstances. [20:03] Mr. Donovan shares his thoughts and ideas about the initiatives and policies to support veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. [21:56] The Federal Electronic Health record. [23:57] The Personnel records. [25:34] DoD SkillBridge is one of the most impactful programs to ensure a successful transition. [26:30] SkillBridge partners with private industries to help veterans find jobs but also for companies to find the workforce that they need for their industries. [27:40] Mr. Donovan shares an example of what has been learned this year during the pandemic: the matter of teleworking.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Learn more about Matthew P. Donovan DoD SkillBridge Office of the Under Secretary of Defense  for Personnel and Readiness   Tweetables and quotes:   “A talent management system takes more into account in regards to people’s own expectations and control over their own careers.”   “In SkillBridge, serving members are approached before they retire to give them skills that they would apply in the fields they desire to work in, skills that will translate directly into jobs.”   “DoD SkillBridge is one of the most impactful programs in assuring a successful transition from active duty service to becoming a productive member of the civilian workforce.”
33:31 11/13/2020
Episode 005: Transitioning Successfully with Brian Niswander
The U.S. military has a great reputation for their ability to plan, to deal with uncertainty, and to deal with complex and complicated problems. There is one area where the U.S. military does not plan very effectively, where there is a struggle while dealing with uncertainty and often becoming overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem that needs attention. Sam Whitehurst, your host, went through this experience when he retired from the army in 2019; he shares the struggle with every other veteran, facing the moment of unease of thinking what is going to happen next, an aspect that is crucial for the future success and happiness.   Sam welcomes Brian Niswander to today’s episode. Brian is an Air Force veteran and a veteran of working at a Fortune 500 company as well as working in the public sector. Brian is also the founder of Military-Transition.org, an organization that is dedicated to providing information and resources to not only transitioning military members but to military spouses, veterans, and also to employers that want to hire others associated with the military.   Key Takeaways: [2:11] Sam suggests everyone who becomes part of the U.S. military service to think from the beginning about what the future will look like after retiring. [4:57] Bryan talks about his background and how Military-Transition.org started. [7:33] What are some of the common mistakes that service members make during their transition? [9:17] What does Military-Transition.org provide to veterans? [14:06] How do you translate what you did in the army when transitioning to the civilian sector? [15:37] Brian talks about the challenges veterans have when translating what they did when trying to apply for a job in the civilian world. [19:35] The power of networking. [20:35] Five elements that are consistent in every successful transition. [27:45] Be able to demonstrate the value that you bring to a company through your credentials. [28:42] Three different groups of serving members while transitioning. [33:24] Brian talks about the five roles that veterans usually start after their transitioning. [37:12] Figuring out what you are going to be after serving is an exciting journey. [38:10] Brian shares his advice: Focus on self-reflection.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Military-Transition.org   Tweetables and quotes:   “Every single person transitions.”   “The decisions you make when you are wearing the uniform are going to impact your future after serving.”   “Five elements for a successful transition: 1. Start your transition early, 2. Have a transition plan, 3. Build a network, 4. Learn how to translate your skills, and 5. Be patient.”
43:01 10/30/2020
Episode 004: History Repeating Itself: Exposure to Burn Pits and the Legacy of Agent Orange with Rosie Torres, Executive Director of Burn Pits 360.
Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst, your host, is joined today by Rosie Torres, the executive director of Burn Pits 360, a nonprofit organization that gives voice to veterans and their families that are dealing with the effects of exposure to burn pits while deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Rosie, and her husband, Captain (Ret.) Le Roy Torres, know firsthand the effects of burn pits to your health and they also know the challenges of trying to find treatment and support from the VA. Le Roy deployed to Balad, Iraq from 2007-2008 where he was daily exposed to the toxic, noxious smoke produced by one of the largest burn pits in Iraq. He began showing symptoms of respiratory disease while deployed and subsequently has been diagnosed with Constrictive Bronchiolitis and Toxic Brain Injury. After experiencing delay, denial of benefits, and ineffective treatment from his physicians, Le Roy alongside his wife, Rosie, founded Burn Pits 360.   Veterans across the country are struggling to get the VA to recognize that the debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses caused by their exposure to burn pits is connected to their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just like our Vietnam Veterans, who were denied benefits from their exposure to Agent Orange, history, unfortunately, is repeating itself.     Rosie shares her and her husband’s struggle to get the VA to recognize and treat his illnesses and the illnesses and diseases of other veterans who were exposed to the smoke produced by burn pits. She also discusses and shares key advice on starting a nonprofit to support veterans and provides information on how you can help Congress and the VA to finally address this very serious and pressing issue.    Key Takeaways: [1:09] The terrible consequences of the exposure to Agent Orange for veterans in service during the Vietnam War. [4:11] History is about to repeat itself: Burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan created a smoked filled with dioxin. [6:45] Rosie shares about creating Burn Pits 360. [10:58] Rosie talks about the challenges that her husband and her encounter in this process with the VA after his return from Iraq. [14:26] Rosie talks about the process of proving that her husband’s lung disease was connected to exposure. [19:05] The scientific evidence vs the VA’s will to grant presumption. [22:35] Rosie talks about the effects of combustion burning. [25:13] Rosie shares about the work she was doing with Jon Stewart [27:44] How can you help in moving the legislation along? [30:07] Rosie shares the lessons learned just by standing up with Burn Pits 360. [34:01] Burn Pits 360: A passion and purpose-driven organization. [35:30] Meet veterans on November 11th at Washington to encourage the members of Congress to hold accountable and support their constituency.    Mentioned in this episode:   Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Burn Pits 360 Jon Stewart, Kirsten Gillibrand Press Conference Transcript: Burn Pit Relief for Veterans   Tweetables and quotes:   “There is no way that we can look away and allow this to happen”   “Access to specialized healthcare in regard to toxic exposure continues to be the biggest challenge for veterans:”   “The smell and look of the smoke that was produced by the burn pits was enough to know it was not right, not normal.”   “Burn Pits 360 Is a passion-driven organization, led by personal experience.”
38:33 10/16/2020
Episode 003: Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Mental Health Challenges For Our Veterans in Times of Pandemic.
Sam Whitehurst, your host, is addressing a very difficult subject in today’s episode: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of our veterans.  We are all facing the challenges that are implied in dealing with this pandemic — challenges such as the fear of the disease itself, the rise of unemployment rates, the economic situation in the following months, and even years, and the lasting impact of social distancing. How are the anxiety and stress caused by the current situation impacting the mental health of our veterans and their families?   Sam is joined today by Dr. Caitlin Thompson, who is the vice-president for Community Partnerships at the Cohen Veterans Network, which is a network of health care clinics across the U.S. that focuses on providing mental health assistance to veterans and their families. Dr. Thompson shares today the mission and vision of Cohen Veterans Network, the work they are doing in response to the pandemic, and she also talks about her thoughts in regards to what we can do to ensure that our veterans and families continue to have access to mental health services to prevent the rise of suicide rates among our veterans.   Key Takeaways: [5:58] Dr. Caitlin Thompson talks about her professional background and her work at the Cohen Veterans Network. [11:05] The issue of access to mental health not only for the veterans but for their families. [13:35] How COVID-19  is impacting veterans and their families in regards to access to mental health? [16:15] Ninety-eight percent of the care Cohen Veterans Network provides is via telehealth. [17:20] Social isolation tends to be a high risk factor for suicide and mental health problems. [18:11] CVN Presents has continuously updated information, videos, and groups to engage the community in other types of activities besides therapy. [19:16] The stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment. [20:28] Dr. Thompson addresses the concern in regard to confidentiality while working with telehealth. [23:45] CVN believes that if you served one day at the military, you deserve care. [25:55] Dr. Thompson talks about the challenges people are experiencing using telehealth. [30:17] How to help a family member that has suicidal thoughts? [33:20] Dr. Thompson encourages people to continue to reach out for the care that they need.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Cohen Veterans Network Learn more about Caitlin Thompson CVN Presents Call the Crisis Line at 1800-273-8255 and press #1. Veteran Crisis Line   Tweetables and quotes:   “As we see unemployment rates rising across the country, we also see the rise in suicide among our veterans.”   “If one person is in the military the whole family is also in it.”   “At Cohen Veterans Network we pivoted really fast to providing mental health care online, over video calls, and on the phone, 98% of the care we provide is done by telehealth.”   “The level of depth you can get with patients in terms of talking things through seems to be even higher when you are using telehealth because people are comfortable, they are in their own homes and this leads for them to feel more quickly comfortable with the therapy sessions.”   “We all deserve to feel as good as we can.”   “Cohen Veteran Networks aims to provide care that is as barrier-free as possible.”   “We can potentially lose an additional 550 to suicide for every 5% increase in the national unemployment rate.”
36:54 09/25/2020
Episode 002: Teamsters: Supporting Veterans and Their Families Transitioning to the Civilian Life with James P. Hoffa
In today’s episode, Sam Whitehurst, your host, is going to present a program that provides opportunities for a career, not just a job, and the significant difference between these two concepts. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters helps transition and provides service members, veterans, and military spouses with additional skills and training, that when they are combined with the military experience makes them extremely competitive for careers that provide work with purpose; work that you can build a future around.   James P. Hoffa is the general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the strongest, most powerful voice in North America for working families. Under Hoffa’s leadership, the Teamsters Union is winning industry-leading contracts, engaging in vigorous contract enforcement, and organizing the unorganized. The Teamsters have a long history of supporting veterans and their families that stretches back to World War I.   Key Takeaways: [1:55] What is the difference between a career and a job? [2:55] Unemployment vs. underemployment. [3:39] The consequences of underemployment. [6:21] Teamsters’ mission is to set up a transition for people coming out of the military and finding good jobs. [7:54] More than just a job, it’s investing in the future. [9:05] Teamsters has 1.4 million members. [10:35] James P. Hoffa talks about the program for military spouses. [12:30] The challenges presented by COVID-19. [14:20] Teamsters provides job opportunities that guarantee good salaries and healthcare benefits. [16:20] Sam shares a story about the sense of fellowship and camaraderie among union members. [18:30] James P. Hoffa talks about the true meaning of Labor Day.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   The International Brotherhood of Teamsters   Tweetables and quotes:   “A career is what provides competitive wages or salaries that allow you to build a future for you and your family. A career provides access to affordable healthcare for you and your family and benefits that will allow you to invest in your future, while a job does not provide any of these and it does not take into account the skills and experience you have developed in the military.”   “A third of job-seeking veterans are underemployed, a rate that is 15 times higher than the nonveteran population.”   “Teamsters provides the opportunity for veterans to use the skills they have acquired during their military service.”   “What better people than the military? The military workers are used to getting up early and they are used to working all day. The military teaches that kind of discipline.”
21:56 09/15/2020
Episode 001: Rick Passarelli: Forging New Pathways to Careers with Purpose for Veterans and Their Families
Welcome to the first episode of Service Before Self, a podcast that tackles the evolving needs of veterans and their families, based on the idea that veterans can succeed in the community where they live. This podcast will introduce you to people and the programs that are having an impact today; you will hear about their successes and lessons learned in creating effective programs in which veterans and their families reach their full potential.   Sam Whitehurst, your host, the Vice President of Programs & Services for Dixon Center, will dive deeply into the needs and challenges veterans and their families go through, as well as into the effective solutions to those challenges.   In this inaugural episode, Sam is joined by Rick Passarelli, who is the Director of Veteran Affairs and Workforce Development at Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the chair for the workforce development subcommittee for the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council. Rick is the architect behind one of the most impactful workforce development programs for veterans in the country, the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP).   Rick enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1982; he served from that date until 1987 and he participated in two deployments. After leaving the Navy, Rick joined Peoples Gas, one of the largest regulated natural gas utilities serving the city of Chicago, where he just recently retired from, after 32 years.   Rick shares in today’s episode some of his very distinguished career of service to his country as well as what has made UMAP such a successful program for veterans.   Key takeaways: [5:37] Richard talks about his Navy career and how it shaped him into who he is now. [7:25] Richard shares his experience in Beirut. [10:05] Transitioning out of the Navy and beginning a career at Peoples Gas [12:20] Richard shares the specific work he did both at Peoples Gas and the UWUA with the UMAP program. [16:10] Richard explains the significance of meaningful employment. [19:56] Richard talks about the partnerships that make the UMAP program so successful. [22:50] UMAP provides a mentorship program for veterans. [25:33] Veteran unemployment before and after COVID-19. [26:31] Richard explains how UMAP is tackling resources for dealing with the pandemic. [28:54] Richard shares his excitement about a new program called Transition for Success.   Mentioned in this episode: Dixon Center: Reaching America At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, we believe our veterans and military families can succeed where they live. Dixon Center is named after Staff Sergeant Donnie Dixon, who was killed in action on September 29, 2007, in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Dixon was a father, husband, and Soldier who always placed the mission first and the safety of his fellow Soldiers above his own. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands as a testament to his example and leadership. Dixon Center on Facebook Dixon Center on Twitter Dixon Center on Instagram   Learn more about Richard Passarelli Visit UWUA for more information Learn more about UMAP and Power4America   Quotes and Tweetables:   “Almost 50% of the membership in the city of Chicago and utility workers are veterans.”   “It is not just about employment for veterans, but meaningful employment.”   “We want to ensure that veterans and their families can really invest in their future.”   “UMAP offers a holistic approach to veterans who join the program.”   “I told them about the experiences that I gained in the Navy. I wanted to get into the construction industry and be able to utilize that skillset when I transition out. I worked a couple of jobs prior to Peoples Gas and in the construction industry.”   “I approached the CEO of Peoples Gas … and I asked them … to find a way to boost the membership to serve the community but also create … careers forward for our men and women coming back from [the Mideast] — at the time, the unemployment rate for veterans was … over 13%.”   “Collective bargaining agreements provide our veterans with good health benefits, great wage increases each and every year, sustainable benefits so that these guys can live the dream that we all had been promised and have the opportunity to be able to do what we all want to do.”   “This is not just preparing somebody for employment without providing all the supportive services that come with it so that we set up our veterans for success.”  
34:43 08/14/2020