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Military Connection: Vets Get New Help on Job Front: By Debbie Gregory

New PartnershipsThere is great news on the way for Veterans who are looking for post-military careers. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a partnership with online education site Coursera to help Veterans get hired.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced the partnership during a women Veterans career development forum held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, just before Veterans Day. Mrs. Obama said that the joint venture is part of the administration’s efforts to help Veterans finding meaningful and lasting employment after separating from the military.

“It’s about making your transition to a fulfilling and wonderful civilian career as seamless as possible,” Mrs. Obama said. “Because we know that leaving the military can feel like you’re stepping into a whole new world.  And in the past few years, too many veterans have struggled during these crucial few months right after you hang up that uniform.”

As part of the partnership between the VA and Coursera, all Veterans will be eligible for a free certificate for select courses on www.Coursera.org. The free courses will be offered in a range of fields, including cybersecurity, health care, entrepreneurship, and data science, to name a few.

After completing a course on Coursera, Veterans will be able to upload the certificate of completion to the mega online job networking site LinkedIn, which will also be offering a free one-year premium subscription, waiving the regular price of $360 a year. The subscription will allow Veterans to appear as featured job applicants to potential employers, and will allow them to access training materials tailored for those who served in the military. They will also be able to contact anyone on the network.

LinkedIn will also be integrated with the VA’s online database system called Veterans Employment Center (VEC). Veterans will be able to upload their VEC profile to LinkedIn, as well as access resources specifically for Veterans.

The VA and Coursera will also work together to launch 20 “learning hubs” around the country. These will be brick and mortar centers that would offer online access and support for Veterans on the job hunt.

In October, 2014, the unemployment rate of Veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was 7.2%. And women from this demographic saw an alarming 11.2% rate. The unemployment rate for non-Veterans was just 5.4%

It is great to see so many measures, initiatives and partnerships forming to combat Veteran unemployment. And with the further education and promotion of Veterans, the rate of under-employed Veterans should be reduced as well.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Vets Get New Help on Job Front: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Joint PTSD/TBI Research: By Debbie Gregory

PTSD TBI StudyIt has been estimated that approximately 20% of the 2.3 million troops who have served in combat since 2001 have suffered a brain injury and/or developed PTSD. Medical researchers are closing is on the creation of a test designed to detect post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.

Currently, conditions such as PTSD and TBI are only diagnosed with self-reported symptoms and subjective exams. But scientists from five different institutions are getting closer to formulating a definitive test for these injuries. In a collaborative attempt to develop tests to detect the invisible wounds, NYU’s Langone Medical Center, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of PTS and TBI, Stanford University, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Department of Defense are examining PTSD and TBI conditions in more than 4,000 service members and civilians.

Now, in year two of the five year, $42.9 million study to locate biomarkers that can indicate evidence of PTSD and TBI, the preliminary results have determined symptoms and methods that can be utilized to determine the presence of these conditions. Blood and genetic variation tests, brain imaging, eye movements and even vocal changes have been determined to provide evidence of PTSD and TBI.

Using brain imaging, researchers have found that patients with PTSD have above-average activity in the amygdala, the portion of the brain responsible for creating and storing memories. They also found below-average activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain that controls social behavior and expression as a response to fear-inducing stimulus. These findings could lead to brain scan tests to diagnose PTSD and confirm treatments appropriate for the condition.

Other research has found that people with PTSD have distinct vocal patterns as part of the condition. The further study of the vocal patterns in PTSD patients could pave the way to a definitive examination to determine whether a person has the disorder.

For years, athletic trainers, emergency medical responders and military medics have looked into the eyes of patients believed to have suffered TBIs. Researchers in the study are also looking at out-of-sync eye movements to develop a quick test for concussion.

Researchers at the Cohen Veterans Center tracked the eye movements of more than 400 service members and Veterans as they watched a four-minute video. They found that these patients’ eyes did not track together in individuals who had or were recovering from a TBI. The condition is called an “anisocoric and disconjugate gaze.” Further study could lead to the development of a medical device that could be used in combat theaters to detect a TBI, such as a concussion, immediately after it occurs.

The next phase of the study will involve determining the most promising biomarkers, and how they can be used to personalize treatments for PTSD and TBI.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Joint PTSD/TBI Research: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Bill Vetoed in NY: By Debbie Gregory

NY GovernorNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed legislation that would have authorized state and municipal pension credits for peacetime military service. The killing of the bill came just before Veterans Day and sparked a fair amount of criticism of the governor.

The legislation was authored by NY State-Senator William Larkin, who is a World War II combat Veteran. If approved, the bill would have amended current NY state law that provides up to three year’s credit toward public employee pensions for military service during hostilities. Veterans would have to pay three percent of their compensation during those military years to the retirement system.

In his veto message, Cuomo claimed that if he had enacted the bill, the state’s local governments would incur $57 million in near-term obligations while ignoring recently enacted pension reforms. The measure would also apply to every past member of the armed forces who is a member of any public employees’ retirement system. Cuomo also noted that the state associations of counties and mayors and the New York City mayor’s office all voiced opposition.

“If enacted, this bill would run roughshod over systemic reforms carefully negotiated with the Legislature to avoid saddling local property taxpayers with additional, unmanageable burdens,” Cuomo wrote.

The NY State Assembly passed the bill 133-1 on the last day of the legislative session back in June.

Assembly sponsors said the U.S. now depends on a volunteer military, and to encourage citizens to join, the state needs to recognize all Veterans by giving them pension access.

Many military and Veteran advocates were extremely disappointed by the veto. However, Cuomo did sign other bills that benefit Veterans. One new law is designed to increase the property tax exemption for Veterans from $5,000 to $7,500 of assessed value. Another new law provides a state income-tax check-off to donate to a homeless Veterans assistance fund.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Bill Vetoed in NY: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Open Audition for Singing Vets: By Debbie Gregory

4troopsEveryone who has served their country in uniform possesses talents beyond what their military duties required. Many celebrated actors, comedians, writers, visual artists and singers are military Veterans. Many Veterans who leave the service look to pursue careers that utilize their talents and passions. For those who list singing as one of their passions, they are being invited to an open audition for the patriotic musical group 4TROOPS.

Since 2010, the Sony Music Veteran group, 4TROOPS, has been a professional touring musical ensemble. The group plays a variety of songs for all audiences, but specializes in patriotic themed songs and military audiences. In their debut year, 4TROOPS performed a concert on the retired aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11) and even sang the National Anthem at the 2010 World Series.

Now Sony Music is looking to form a new group of singing Veterans to record music and tour the world as professional vocal performers. Sony is partnering with the Center for American Military Music Opportunities (CAMMO) to hold open auditions online.

All U.S. military Veterans with a verifiable honorable discharge are eligible to try out. Active duty personnel who are separating from service or starting terminal leave by March 1, 2015, are also eligible. National Guard and Reserve component service-members who are able to obtain permission to dedicate the time it takes to fulfill recording, promotional and performance obligations for the group are also invited to audition.

For the audition process, Sony Music Entertainment and CAMMO have gathered a prominent group if panelists to judge the candidates and select the next members of 4TROOPS. The group includes American Idol and The Voice vocal coach, Debra Byrd; Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar winning musical arranger and producer, Jay Landers; 4TROOPS vocal coach, Joey Beebe; CAMMO creative director and 4TROOPS’ producer,writer, arranger, Victor Hurtado; Universal, Sony, J Records and Def Jam producer, Jeff Caufield; and founding member of 4TROOPS, Ron Henry.

Following a 50-city tour of the U.S., and appearances on numerous national television shows, the founding members of 4TROOPS eventually had to leave the group for family reasons. Over the past three years, with the help of rotating members, the ensemble has continued to perform the material from the first album.

To audition for 4TROOPS, log on to http://cammomusic.org/#puresolo. For more information about the auditions, please contact casting@cammomusic.org.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Open Audition for Singing Vets: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA’s $16.3b Won’t Last Long: By Debbie Gregory

VA MoneyThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is claiming that the $16.3 billion that was allotted through the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (Veterans Choice Act) is not going to be enough to provide adequate care, long term.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald predicts that in the coming decades, Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will require even more care, possibly peaking 30 to 40 years from now. The VA’s leader said that the department will need more money to care for Veterans.

Many Americans believe that the seemingly huge sum allotted by the Veterans Choice Act was supposed to fix the VA and provide long-term healthcare for Veterans. But even though the wars seem to be winding down, the claims made by the Iraq and Afghanistan War-era Veterans will likely peak again in 40 years, and the duration of benefits will last even longer. McDonald noted that VA records show that there are still approximately 100 Veteran dependents from the Spanish-American War, and one dependent from a Civil War Veteran who still receive benefits.

The $16.3 billion allotted by the Veterans Choice Act is broken down into smaller provisions. The bill allots $10 billion for the utilization of private care at hospitals and clinics outside the VA, and $5 billion for the department to hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The other $1.5 billion can be spent on leases to use other medical facilities at 27 sites around the country.

Back in July, before the Veterans Choice Act was approved, Sloan Gibson, who was acting-secretary, said that the VA needed $17.6 billion over the next three years to reform patient wait times at VA facilities. Note that Gibson’s amount was more than what the VA received, and it was estimated to fix the wait time issue only.

The next  request for funds by the VA could fall on deaf ears as lawmakers return to Washington to hammer out fiscal 2015 spending bills, with a look towards 2016.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA’s $16.3b won’t Last Long: By Debbie Gregory

 
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