Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

New Jersey job fair yields results

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The American Legion joined forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to host a recent job fair in Tom's River, N.J., as part of the Hiring Our Heroes series, a joint effort between the two organizations to employee veterans, military members and their families. The event, held at George P. Vanderveer Post 129, followed in the success of the previous Hiring Our Heroes job fairs, as around 25 veterans were hired by vendors in attendance.

"The general consensus among everybody was it was definitely a positive thing," Post 129 Commander Rich Gato said. "The employers were happy and collected a number of resumes. I talked to a number of job seekers who were thrilled with it."

In attendance were Verizon, New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey Transit, Lowe's, New York Life Insurance, Sears, Hecht Trailer and Hertz. Rep. Jon Runyan, R - N.J., spoke at the event, and the local NBC affiliate streamed the fair live.

"We feel it was very successful," Gato said. "The banquet hall was filled the whole day with people. I know Verizon had 60 positions open and hired six on the spot. Hecht Trailer hired two right on the spot."

Before the fair, Gato and other event organizers lifted the registration requirement and opened the doors to any veteran who walked in the post building. Attendees not only got the chance to network with potential employers, but they received career advice from counselors who were on hand.

The fair continued to produce results even after it ended. One of the vendors reached out to Gato afterword, looking for a diesel mechanic. He connected the company with a veteran who was a diesel mechanic in Afghanistan and got the veteran a job.

"At least 20 were hired that day, and the number got close to 25 in the days after," Gato said. "It was definitely a great pilot program."

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VA to host veteran online career fair

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has teamed up with to sponsor a nationwide, virtual online job fair on Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (EST).

"As we work to help Veterans find good paying jobs, it is important that we take advantage of online resources that connect our Veterans with employers around the Nation who want to hire these highly qualified and experienced men and women," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

Currently, more than 60 military-friendly national employers from both the private and federal sectors have registered to participate in the online career fair. Veterans can pre-register for the online event by clicking here. Once veterans log in on the day of the career fair, they will have the opportunity to visit employer booths, view job openings, apply for jobs, watch employer videos and presentations, chat live with recruiters, and conduct on-the-spot video interviews.

More importantly, veterans will have the ability to interact with VetSuccess counselors to learn more about VA benefits. And for transitioning servicemembers and family members, resources and tools regarding training, employment and independent living will be available.

Additionally, the VA's website features more than eight million job openings, as well as tools to help veterans build or upload resumes and for employers to search for veterans who match their recruiting needs.
For more information regarding the online job fair, click here.

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Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to honor Woodstock resident as its ‘Veteran of the Month’

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CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) on Monday (November 14th) will honor Bob Gibson, a Woodstock resident and U.S. Navy veteran, as its November 2011 “Veteran of the Month” during a ceremony at 10 a.m. (CST) at Hearthstone Community Building, 840 N. Seminary Ave., in Woodstock, Ill.

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Acknowledging Our Veterans on Veterans Day

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Veterans Day campaigns have become more creative and heartfelt to show support for veterans, as well as the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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SBA supports veteran small businesses

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In a report addressed to President Obama and timed to coincide with the current media focus on Veterans Day, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released a list of recommendations designed to encourage the growth of the veteran-owned small business community.

The 32-page report was issued on Nov. 8 by the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business, which was created in April 2010 by President Obama. Participants of the task force included seven federal agencies and four veterans service organizations, including The American Legion. At the recommendation of American Legion Economic Division director Joe Sharpe, the Legion was represented by former Economic Commission Chairman Dan Dellinger, a highly experienced small businessman. Dellinger says the group began bi-monthly, public meetings in September 2010 with conference calls to augment the sessions.

In the end, the task force created 18 recommendations for veteran small business development. Dellinger explains, "One of the first things we did was to extend SBA's Patriot Express program for another three years. We did that even before this (SBA) report came out. If we saw something that we could implement immediately, we did."

The SBA's Patriot Express program provides low-interest loans for the start-up, development and expansion of veteran owned small businesses. The program was set to expire last December.

Dellinger also talked of the task force's efforts to better facilitate the acquisition of small business seed and support money. "We wanted to streamline the process to get SBA loans," he said. "It was mind boggling. You basically had to take classes in order to apply for these loans. The paperwork, we thought, was too extensive, so we worked to simplify it."

In its report, the task force recommends making more money available for veteran and service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. One method is to "leverage new and existing lending commitments as a vehicle to increase access to capital." Another is to "increase awareness access and utilization of microloans in the veteran-owned small business community." The SBA's micro-loan program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns by making funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, who then make loans to eligible borrowers. The average micro-loan is about $13,000 with a maximum of $50,000.

Another recommendation from the report is to "vest the GI Bill benefits as a property right, allowing veterans to use funds for both education and small business creation activities such as counseling and business financing." Dellinger expanded on this idea. "Some of the people who are in the service currently - which includes National Guard and reserve members - already have academic degrees, so educational benefits as they are now aren't really relevant. We thought, ‘Why not apply the monies that would have been expended on education toward small business opportunities?'"

The Department of Defense's Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which prepares soon-to-be discharged servicemembers for re-entry into civilian life, also drew the attention of the task force. Dellinger said the group would like to see the TAP curriculum expanded to include education about entrepreneurship. "Over the next five years," Dellinger said, "I think there are supposed to be a million servicemembers transitioning out. So, we felt it was increasingly important to give those who want to start a small business an educational background through the TAP program on how to not only go into business, but succeed in it."

Dellinger was asked what he thought the fate of the recommendations contained in the Veterans Small Business report will be. He replied, "I think what's going to happen is that the areas that are going to require money will basically languish at this point, until we get through the economic crisis we're in. But some of the other recommendations that don't require actual money - other than what's already been set aside, such as the expansion of the TAP curriculum - will go forward."

Finally, Dellinger offered praise for fellow members of the task force. "It's been an honor to serve with everybody on the committee from other veterans organizations and the government. It was very gratifying to see the government agencies work together. They went across their boundaries to help our service men and women and our veterans achieve their dreams of owning a small business."

Dellinger said it is his understanding that the task force may remain in existence for another year to monitor implementation of its recommendations.

Besides involvement in the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business, The American Legion has been, for the past several years, staging free-of-charge small business development workshops for entrepreneurial veterans wishing to do business with the federal government. The Legion's Economic Division also maintains a Small Business Task Force to encourage the creation and growth of veteran-owned businesses.


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