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Jobless Rate Rises for Post 9/11 Veterans in January

unemployment

By Debbie Gregory.

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a program giving employers tax credits to encourage veteran employment. Other programs also have encouraged companies and government agencies to hire veterans.

In spite of those efforts, the unemployment rate for the youngest generation of veterans jumped to 6.3 percent in January, the fourth time in the last seven months that group’s figure has been substantially higher than the overall veteran rate.

The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect the last month of President Barack Obama’s time in office, represent about 211,000 Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work. That’s almost 46 percent of the total of all U.S. veterans filing for unemployment benefits in January.

Young veterans, the ones between the ages of 18 and 34, face challenges in the employment marketplace that non-veterans never have to face and that older veterans have already overcome.

In many cases, it is hard to translate the work that was done in the service to a civilian equivalence. There are also few calls for riflemen, artillery spotters, missile technicians and many other military positions.

The January 2017 veteran unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, compared to the non-veteran rate of 5.0 percent. In December, the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans’ rate was 5.7 percent.

With additional training and responsibility, the unemployment rate of young veterans should be lower than the rest of the population. That’s why the higher number of unemployed younger veterans does raise concerns.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics officials estimate that nearly 9.8 million veterans are in the U.S. workforce today, with roughly 32 percent of them having served in the military after 2001.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Mil Vet Employees at Starbucks Respond to Call for Boycott

starbucks hiring

By Debbie Gregory.

President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries prompted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to announce that the company would hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where it does business, with the effort starting in the United States.

The announcement prompted a backlash on social media with several people using the hashtag BoycottStarbucks to urge customers to stay away from its stores. Some users also posted screenshots of them deleting the company’s app on their phones.

But veterans who work at Starbucks have something to say to those insisting the coffee company should hire veterans instead of refugees: “Check your facts, Starbucks is already there.”

Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network wrote, “We respect honest debate and the freedom of expression. Many of us served to protect that very right. Some of our brothers and sisters died protecting it,” in its message. “But to those who would suggest Starbucks is not committed to hiring veterans, we are here to say: check your facts, Starbucks is already there.”

Starbucks Armed Forces Network was founded in 2007 to bring partners who served in the military together to bond over their shared experiences, to provide guidance for newly hired partners transitioning from military to civilian life and to create a veteran-friendly workforce.

In 2013, Starbucks made a pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and veteran spouses by 2018. The company has hired 8,800 U.S. veterans and military spouses already as part of its pledge, and said it would reach its veteran hiring target earlier than expected and would continue hiring more.

CEO Schultz and his wife, Sheri, have visited military bases, used their personal wealth to help with plans for service members coming back from active duty, established military family stores at more than 30 bases around the country and encouraged Starbucks senior leaders to visit military bases.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Awards Service Pistol Contract to Sig Sauer

sig

By Debbie Gregory.

Firearms manufacturer Sig Sauer has won a contract to make the next service pistol based on the company’s P320 handgun.

The U.S. Army has selected the SIG SAUER Model P320 to replace the M9 service pistol currently in use since the mid-1980’s. Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator.

There was tough competition for the Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract, worth $580 million, between Sig Sauer, Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA.

The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with both compact and full-size versions of the gun.

The firearms will be manufactured at Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire facility.

Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”

The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market. In December 2014, Beretta USA submitted its modernized M9A3 as a possible alternative to the Army’s Modular Handgun System program.

But the Army rejected the improved M9A3, which featured new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability. The company, however, wasn’t finished yet. It developed a new striker-fired pistol, the APX, and entered it into the competition.

The Army began working with the small arms industry on Modular Handgun System in early 2013, but the joint effort has been in the works for more than five years. It could result in the Defense Department buying nearly 500,000 new pistols.

Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 handguns, according to Program Executive Office Soldier officials. The Army also plans to buy approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions of the handgun.

The other military services participating in the program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

New Blended Retirement Plan Coming Soon

military blended

By Debbie Gregory.

In February, the primary tool to introduce the blended retirement system (BRS) to active and reserve component service members will be a two-hour online course that explains features and compares potential lifetime values with the legacy “High-3” retirement plan. They also will have access to a new online calculator to compare BRS with High-3 using age, years expected to serve, planned contributions to Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) with government matching (a key feature of BRS), historic rates of return on TSP investment options, personal tolerance for investment risk and more.

Now if that first paragraph made your eyes glaze over, financial guru Suze Orman wants to help.

Orman has recently formed an educational partnership with the Army, one that is accessible to all service members on SuzeU.com. Using the coupon code “USA” the program, which typically costs $54, is free for troops using the code.

Orman wants those in the military to protect their money as aggressively as they do the nation.

Servicemembers  with less than 12 years of active duty service and National Guard and Reserve members with less than 4,320 points will have until Dec. 31, 2018 to choose whether to remain in the current system or opt into the new one. The new blended retirement system is a three-pronged program.

Prong 1 consists of a defined pension benefit upon retirement. Prong 2 consists of a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is similar to a 401K plan. And Prong 3 is a one-time continuation payment for Soldiers with eight to 12 years of service.

Orman said the military is moving to BRS for the same reason most companies have trimmed or replaced their defined pension plans with employer contributions to portable 401k plans: It saves them money.

“If you’re smart and you let me teach you, I can show you how you can have more money [with BRS] than if you stayed with the simple legacy system,” Orman said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

One China Policy to Stand

one china

By Debbie Gregory.

It took nearly three weeks for President Trump to contact Chinese President Xi Jinping, but in the call Trump affirmed the “One China” policy that Beijing insists upon with regard to Taiwan, but which Trump in December was threatening to ignore.

In a statement, the White House said Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi “discussed numerous topics, and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our One China policy.” It described the call as “extremely cordial” and said the leaders had invited each other to visit.

Trump’s December phone call with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, hinted that the United States might no longer abide by the One China policy.

The Chinese state news media said that Mr. Trump had “stressed that he fully understood the great importance for the U.S. government to respect the One China policy,” and that “the U.S. government adheres to the One China policy.”

It also said the two leaders had agreed on the “necessity and urgency of strengthening cooperation between China and the United States.”

On February 14th, the government of China awarded Trump the valuable rights to his own name in the form of a 10-year trademark for construction services.

After a decade spent trying to gain the rights to his name back from a man named Dong Wei, the move has raised questions about the extent to which his political status may be helping his family business.

Over the past decade, Trump has lodged 126 trademark applications in China for the TRUMP name, on everything from pet-care products to computer software to lingerie to golf clubs, according to records at the Trademark Office. Some 77 have been registered, while 49 remain pending.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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