Working Effectively with Veterans
An ‘un-conferencing’ session focusing on veterans was held at the April 2014, national AgrAbility Training Workshop in Kentucky. AgrAbility programs in our nation deal with farmers, farming, agri-business and rural communities and how to serve and interact with persons with disabilities who live and work in that venue.
In ‘un-conferencing’, a facilitator and the participants determine what is to be discussed, shared and learned regarding a specific ‘topic’ on the agenda. This was an interesting concept and was a very worthwhile and productive session.
The 4 topics the full house wanted to learn about included:
1) How do we find veterans in our state?
2) How do we reach veterans in our state?
3) What are the best methods for assisting veterans?
4) Veteran related resources.
The following is a great list of ideas and information shared by the group.
Notes from the Un-Conferencing Session, April 3, 2014
Checklist for Finding Veterans in Your State:
- Veteran Centers (Vet Centers) – To find centers in your state see http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter_flsh.asp
- Established Veteran Groups – These might be formal and informal. For a list of veteran organizations in the US, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_veterans%27_organizations#United_States
- County veteran service officer – County Veterans Service Officers (CVSO), employed by their respective states, are professionals who know their way around the VA system and can assist veterans and their families in a number of ways. see http://www.longtermcarelink.net/ref_list_state_county_veterans_service_officers.htm
- Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) – CBOC’s are part of the US Department of Veteran Affairs. A Community Based Outpatient Clinic is a medical facility providing limited services to a given locale.
- Search local newspaper for veteran-related activities
- Job Fairs – Recruit Military is one organization that focuses on job fairs for veterans. See https://events.recruitmilitary.com/
- Homeless Shelters & Soup Kitchens – Some veterans may be in need and are using these services in your communities.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) – The mission of the VFW is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military, and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans. https://www.vfw.org/
- Active Duty Military Base Offices to find a military installation, see this Department of Defense site http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/MOS/f?p=MI:ENTRY:0 In addition, you might check the Military.com site http://www.military.com/ResourcesAlmanac/ResourcesKeyIndex/0,14015,35-mil_status_active-1,00.html
- National Guard - http://www.nationalguard.com/ You can find out more information for your state through the National Guard Association http://www.ngaus.org/state-national-guard-information
- Local Support Groups – These groups could be formal or informal. Here is a link to a directory of veterans service organizations http://www.va.gov/vso/ , Here is an example of a non-profit that supports vets http://theveteranssupport.org/
- State Veterans Affairs Offices http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm
- Disabled Veterans Outreach Coordinator or Specialist – The Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists provide intensive services to meet the employment needs of disabled veterans and other eligible veterans, with the maximum emphasis directed toward serving those who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, including homeless veterans, and veterans with barriers to employment. http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/106
- Technical Schools, Community Colleges, Colleges & Universities – Educational institutions are likely to have an office on their campus serving veterans who are current students and graduates.
- Social Media Searches
- Internet Search Engine – Try a search in your state, such as “Alaska Veterans”
- Department of Motor Vehicles – Some veterans have veteran license plates/tags from the Department of Motor Vehicles in their respective state. http://www.carsdirect.com/dmv/how-to-get-a-veteran-license-plate
- Family & Friends
- Church Groups
- Schools - public school superintendents and teachers will likely know of active military families or families with parents who are veterans
- Law Enforcement - Many law enforcement officers are veterans. They would likely know other veterans.
- Postal Workers - A good number of postal workers are veterans.
- Employees Groups
- Town Halls or City Halls – Personnel or staff may be aware of veterans in your community.
- Substance Abuse Groups
- Mental Health Community
- Operation Military Kids (OMK) – OMK is a 4H Youth Development outreach of Cooperative Extension in some states. https://www.operationmilitarykids.org/public/home.aspx
Checklist for Reaching Veterans in Your State: Consider using these sites and ways to communicate with or present a message to veterans.
- Newsletters - However, veteran groups are not likely to have their own newsletter.
- Posters in strategic locations such as on bulletin boards at
- Federal Offices
- Temporary Employment Agencies
- Public Libraries
- Grocery Stores
- Café, coffee shops and restaurants owned by veterans
- Cooperative Extension Offices – Your state land grant institution(s) are likely to have an Extension office in every county.
- Post Offices
- Career Centers
- Medical Facilities
- Yellow Ribbon Events - Your state may have special events for returning veterans. See http://www.yellowribbon.mil/ or https://www.jointservicessupport.org/yrrp/Default.aspx
- USO Centers - United Service Organizations is a civilian, voluntary, nonprofit organization serving the morale needs of U.S. military personnel and their families worldwide. Although congressionally chartered, it is not a government agency and is supported by individual and corporate donations, United Way, and Combined Federal Campaign. FMI, see http://www.uso.org/Centers/USO-Centers---United-States.aspx
- Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR Employment) – See http://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/index.asp?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite
- Other veterans – word of mouth
- Blue Star Mothers (mom’s of active US military) – This group may be interested in your outreach. To find the BSM’s near you, see http://www.bluestarmothers.org/locate-a-chapter-2
- Gold Star Mothers (mom’s of military killed in service to the US) - This group may be interested in your outreach to veterans. http://www.goldstarmoms.com/
- Social Networking – Facebook/Twitter. It is evident that many veterans are using social networking to communicate with each other.
- Veteran Cemeteries – These cemeteries are likely to have special ceremonies for veterans and their families. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier's lots and monument sites. http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/listcem.asp
Best Methods for Assisting Veterans
- Learn the language. – Here is a link to Veteran Affairs glossary. http://www.va.gov/vetdata/glossary.asp
- Be direct.
- Follow up/ perform / do your job.
- Develop a checklist.
- ID their goals and needs.
- Include their family in the conversation.
- Learn about what they went through.
- Speak their language.
- Respect their perspective.
- Consult military.
- Be sensitive and be aware of body language.
- Listen to what they have to say.
- Don’t make decisions for them.
- Learn and understand the barriers for veterans (real and perceived).
- Don’t expect them to disclose all the information to you.
- Consider participating or volunteering for their support groups as a way to learn more about the culture and needs.
- Allow time for them to build trust in you.
- Define expectations.
- Consider peer mentoring.
- Educate yourself in special areas such as suicide resources.
- Be honest and realistic with what you can do for them.
- Consider attending a “Boot Camp for Civilians” as a way to learn about military culture.
- eXtension Military Families http://www.extension.org/militaryfamilies
- Veterans’ Pathways http://www.veteranspathway.org/
- Pathways for Veterans http://pathwaysforveterans.org/
- Wounded Warriors http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
- Vocational Rehabilitation Offices
- Military OneSource http://www.militaryonesource.mil/
- Road Map for military families
- National Military Family Association http://www.militaryfamily.org/
- Road Map to Resilience: A Guide for Military, Trauma Victims and Their Families http://www.roadmaptoresilience.org/
- American Legion http://www.legion.org/
- VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)
- Veteran Service Offices http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm
- Army One Source Webinars - http://www.myarmyonesource.com/default.aspx
- Veteran Business Network http://www.veteransbusinessnetwork.com/
- Rural Initiative Neighborhood Works http://www.nw.org/network/
- Farmer Veteran Coalition http://www.farmvetco.org/
- National Rural Health Association http://www.ruralhealthweb.org/
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV) http://www.dav.org/
- VA Outpatient Clinic http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp
- SCORE http://www.score.org/
- Vietnam Veterans of America http://www.vva.org/
- Colleges have veteran coordinator
- Senior Centers
- USAA.com – Insurance The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a Texas-based Fortune 500 diversified financial services group of companies including a Texas Department of Insurance regulatedreciprocal inter-insurance exchange and subsidiaries offering banking, investing, and insurance to people and families that serve, or served, in the United States military.
CountyOffice.org - a site with all different local county offices listed
- Veterans’ Guide to Getting Hired: http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/veterans-guide-to-getting-hired/
As military personnel return from active duty and the armed forces continue to shrink, the number of veterans entering the civilian workforce rises. With the U.S. economy also improving, more and more companies are hiring employees – good news for veterans looking for jobs. This guide is intended to help existing and future veterans find jobs and start new careers. They can read about finding a job, opportunities and challenges within the workplace, how businesses benefit from hiring veterans, and how vocational rehabilitation prepares veterans to find work.