Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

USAA Tips: Not all lessons from your military career matter to a successful civilian career

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Military experience has a wide variety of uses to help advance your career outside of the military. The military attributes of personal performance such as hard work, determination, showing up early, and staying until the job is done have enormous value. Concrete skill sets that you learned in the military such as maintenance, technology, and how to lead teams are valuable. Finally, military skill sets that can translate to business use such as planning, competitive analysis, risk mitigation, coaching, and change implementation are of extraordinary value to your success in a second career.

With all the value that comes from a military background, it is vital to remember that not ALL value comes from a military background. There are some conceptions of military leadership or attributes of how military tasks are performed that are just plain wrong. For example, in the military, over-stocking of critical supply items just in case they might be needed is an acceptable practice, especially in a combat environment. However, over-stocking items for a commercial company, where cost and concern over cash flow rule supreme, over-stocking of all but the most important items is something that is not to be done.

Here are five areas that military veterans need to be aware of where their military experience does not translate well into civilian careers.

1. Not Everyone Follows the Same Path to Leadership.

In the military, to be an infantry squad leader, everyone who got to that position got there the same way. The squad leader attended basic training, advanced individual training, served successfully as an individual soldier, attended advanced leadership training, served as an assistant squad leader, and met all the time in grade requirements for promotion to a squad leader. When all of these attributes were met, then they became a squad leader. In the civilian world, everyone reaches a position of responsibility differently. Different backgrounds, different education, different time with the company, and different former positions. There is no rule what background it takes to be successful in a position. Leaders are judged mainly on the results they produce.

2. There is Not a Uniform Code of Ethics and Leadership Attributes.

In the military, the leadership style and leadership education is largely standardized into what and how we should act as leaders. In the Army, we know from almost our first day as soldiers what good Army leaders look like and how they should act. Great Army leaders look like Audie Murphy from WWII, one of the most decorated soldiers in history, or those hallowed posthumous recipients of the Medal of Honor. We also know the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. However, the Army values and leadership attributes are not corporate attributes of ethics and integrity. Corporations are far, far different and broad when it comes to defining how they understand ethics and what personal values they promote.

3. Physical Fitness is Not a Leadership Attribute.

In the military, regardless of service or military occupation, we expected our leaders would be "PT animals" and we were extremely disappointed if they were not. After all, to lead by example, a leader had to be able to hike, shoot the entire unit’s weapons, carry gear long distances, and be able to sustain themselves for 48-72 hours with very little rest. In the military, a leader cannot lead if they cannot be at the front at all times. In civilian careers, job performance, not physical fitness, is what is required to be great. I have had great bosses who would have had trouble doing well in a 2 mile run to military fitness standards. However, their job performance and commercial leadership was exemplary and they produced great results for the company. Job fitness, not physical fitness is the standard of the corporate world.

4. Age is Not an Attribute of Leadership Success.

In the military, there are established times in grade requirements for every leadership position. We know that an Army company commander will have anywhere from 4 to 6 years of experience specific to the command responsibility and probably fulfilled a minimum of one to two positions that fall within that command’s responsibility. In the business world, commercial leaders can be old, young, and every variation in between. To make it even more complicated, some business leaders’ first experience in a company is as the CEO. Again, the defining qualification of a business leader is success in that position and not age or the number of years with the company.

5. Your Military Experience May Not Be Fully Respected or Understood.

Military veterans want their military experience respected, understood, and valued when they transition from the military to a new career. Employees from a different company that join new companies want their previous work experience respected, understood, and valued by their new employer. For both military veterans and new employees with a prior work background, this complete respect, understanding, and value rarely happens. Companies value prior experience when they see, understand, and have that prior background create new value for the company. Your prior military experience is valuable and it is important. However, you have to show concrete examples and steps how you made a success at your current job from what you learned at your old job. Do not be frustrated; understand, translate, adapt, and apply your military job skills to your new company.

With all the value that comes from a military background, it is vital to remember that not ALL value comes from a military background. Military experience has a wide variety of uses to help advance your career outside of the military. Be aware that your prior military experience and your understanding of how organizations run may not always be valuable in every scenario. Determine what your new company needs and what your military experience brings to the role, this will help you make a successful transition from your military career to your new civilian career.

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North Carolina TALARC post to hold technician licensing class in January

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A few times each year Post 187 in Wake Forest, N.C., holds a technician licensing class through the TALARC chapter. But they do not do it alone. They have the support and assistance of amateur radio operators in the area.

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club ( and the Occoneechee Amateur Radio Society (OARS) join the class to instruct up to 30 students. This instruction enhances the information learned in the books they have all read to give them the opportunity to take and pass their technician test, and a few their general test also.

Most of the members of TALARC Post 187 are members of the other local radio clubs also, and these people enjoy educating and mentoring new people into the world of amateur radio.

The FCC exams are administered on the third weekend after lunch by the W4CEC Volunteer Examiner Team (, which is a member of the Laurel VEC. Typically, once they pass the exam on that Saturday they have their call sign on Monday, or at the latest on Tuesday. This is exciting for the newly licensed operator and allows them to get into the hobby as soon as possible.

The TALARC club holds an exam session once each quarter throughout the year, and twice each year in conjunction with the exam they hold the technician licensing classes the two weeks prior. Scouts, as in BSA and GSUSA youth, who attend and participate in three Saturday sessions receive the Radio Merit Badge (BSA) or the Radio Award (GSUSA). The January sessions will be the 11th, 18th and 25th.

For youth, this is an important event and some units make it a point to participate annually, as each year they have new members in their unit. In 2019, at this session, they awarded 32 merit badges to the boys and girls in their Scouts BSA units. A few of them passed their exam and are licensed, as are a few of their parents who sat there and listened during the class. A new family hobby!

Laurel VEC (, established in 1984, provides testing of the FCC exam for amateur radio at no cost.

W4CECVET is affiliated with the Laurel VEC and provides free testing for anyone who registers and takes the exam.

OARS is the radio club for the Occoneechee Council, BSA, in Raleigh, N.C.

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