Fall 2015 MERG
for MILITARY From the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, through 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and hundreds of other disasters natural or manmade, America has learned many lessons. One of the biggest, is that when it is time to respond, to save lives, no asset should be spared, whether it be civilian, government or military. Each has a unique set of skills and tools that can complement each other. Your military experience has taught you that for success to be achieved, those who take on the mission together must train together. When the unthinkable has happened, there is no time to “work out the kinks”. TEEX offers education and certification through state of the art training and facilities that will enable you to better serve the Nation and your community when you are needed most. • Fire Officer • Hazardous Materials • Fire Instructor • Fire Inspector • Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting • Telecommunications • Driver Operator
MERG Fall 2015 C15.7821.09
MILITARY & VETERANS for VETERANS “Good work soldier”…Your military service is complete. But your desire to serve, to make a difference…that will never go away. Finding a new career at a time when veterans are entering the workforce in historic numbers is a tough mission. Finding a career that uses your military skills, talents and determination that also satisfies your desire to serve, may seem impossible. TEEX is committed to supporting your new mission. We will help you utilize the GI Bill and other programs earned through your service, to attain the skills and certifications to get jobs, be successful and continue to make a difference. • Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Technician Level 1 • Demining • Heavy Equipment Operator for Ordnance Workers • Basic Peace Officer • Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO) – Construction • Certified Safety and Health Official (CSHO) – General Industry • Recruit Fire Training Academy
Fall 2015 MERG
THE TOP CHOICE OF SERVICEMEMBERS. People talk. And right now, they’re talking about AMU. Built upon student referrals, AMU is the global leader in education for the U.S. military. Since we offer more than 90 online degree programs, from Cybersecurity to Transportation and Logistics, you can do anything you set your mind to—whether in the military or transitioning out.
WITH 65,000 MILITARY STUDENTS, THE WORD IS OUT — BUT WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.
LEARN MORE AT WWW.AMUONLINE.COM/DS
*As reported by Military Times/Edge Magazine
We want you to make an informed decision about the university that’s right for you. For more about the graduation rate and median debt of students who completed each program, as well as other important information—visit www.APUS.edu/disclosure.
MERG Fall 2015
Image Courtesy of the DoD.
American Military University offers more than 90 degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level through its six distinct academic schools.
AMERICAN MILITARY UNIVERSITY www.amuonline.com/DS Admission Phone: 877-777-9081 Financial Aid Phone: 877-372-3535 Military Programs Email: email@example.com
ASSOCIATE DEGREES Associate programs are designed for students who seek a two-year degree as either their final degree in higher education or the foundation for further study at the bachelor’s level. An associate degree typically requires 61-64 semester hours (20 courses and 1-4 labs). Students must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent to be admitted to an associate program. BACHELOR’S DEGREES The bachelor’s degree program is also open to students who possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. This minimum 120-124 credit program is the standard “fouryear” undergraduate degree desired by most employers and prepares the student for graduate study. All students who enroll in the bachelor’s degree program must first complete Coll100-Foundations of Online Learning which helps to ensure they get the most out of their online learning experience. MASTER’S DEGREES AMU accepts students for graduate-level study who have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. To earn a master’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 12 courses and take a final comprehensive examination, thesis options, or capstone/ applied research project at the end of all course work.
School of Arts and Humanities The University is unique in offering a full range of online degrees in arts and humanities that are based on the great ideas, works, and thinkers that have defined civilization as embodied in the “great books” tradition. The curriculum addresses humankind’s fundamental topics through study of courses in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Coursework is designed to develop high-level research, analytical, and interpersonal skills and prepares students for a broad range of professional careers. School of Business The School of Business offers a flexible, dynamic, and interactive program to accommodate many types of learners. We integrate new technologies to keep the classroom interesting and up-todate. Students are taught not only the concepts but also the “real world” application of the materials. The curriculum provides the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge for students seeking preparation or advancement in business and leadership roles in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Programs dovetail with several university specialties so that students can specifically concentrate in areas of professional or personal interest—ranging from entrepreneurship and global business management to information technology management and homeland security resource allocation. School of Education Graduate programs in the School of Education are designed to meet the most rapid growing demands of the profession. Our certification programs are built to the high state and national content standards. We provide opportunities to practicing teachers to enhance their professional training in critical needs areas such as special education, elementary reading, ELL, instructional leadership and curriculum and instruction for elementary teachers. School of Public Service and Health The School of Public Service and Health houses several of the university’s flagship programs; namely emergency and disaster management and criminal justice. It is also the home of up-andcoming programs in security management, legal studies, and public health. Our faculty combine top academic credentials with practical expertise. They include practicing attorneys, public health professionals, emergency managers, criminal justice professionals, and security managers--as well as international and national governmental and military consultants and practitioners. School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Science and technology professionals are vital to society’s continued innovation. Academic programs in this school help students cultivate the problem solving, creative, and technological skills necessary for advancements in their chosen field – whether it be pursuing innovations in environmental policy, space studies, or one of the many professions within the information technology field. School of Security and Global Studies The programs taught in the School of Security and Global Studies truly embody our motto, “Educating Those Who Serve.” Students with majors in this school have an understanding of the world— appreciating differences in political, economic, and social cultures. Our faculty members are highly-credentialed and respected leaders in their fields, and many of them currently work in the U.S. government and in the U.S. intelligence community. Our graduates are employed in leadership positions at agencies ranging from the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security to the intelligence services, as well as private businesses throughout the world. Fall 2015 MERG
We are serving those who have served. Whether youâ€™re looking to take classes on campus or online, Texas Tech University is here for you. We take great pride in the fact that we currently have nearly 2000 students who are veterans or family members of veterans. We also have more than 250 faculty & staff who have served. The number one priority at Texas Tech is you earning your degree. Thank you for your service and dedication to our country during its time of need. Be proud of who you are, be proud of what you do, and be proud of what you will continue to do in the future. From Here, Itâ€™s Possible!
MERG Fall 2015
Texas Tech University is a proud recipient of the following awards:
Student Highlights Maria E. Flores
Classification: Junior Major: Management Branch: US Navy Ret. Rank: EM1 Since my time here at Texas Tech I have been able to appreciate what being in the military and serving my country really means. Working at the MVP office and being a student here at Texas Tech has allowed me to help others who have served the military finish their education and also help the dependents of veterans complete their life dream. I believe that being a Texas Tech student and working at the MVP office has helped me grow as a person and an American.
Classification: Sophomore Major: Electrical Engineering Branch: US Army Rank: E-6/SSG After serving seven years in the U.S. Army, as bomb disposal, getting out and going back to school while raising a newborn was a nightmare. Thanks to the resources, like the Veterans Association of Texas Tech and the Military & Veterans Programs Office available at Texas Tech, I was able to have a smooth transition into the college setting. In return, I try to be an active member of those organizations that helped me transition to help other veterans and family members achieve their educational goals. I truly believe in our motto that “From here it’s possible” and I try to spread that message to others.
Look for this Green Zone symbol across campus to connect with advocates who have been trained to assist service members.
een zone gr
Fall 2015 MERG
MERG Fall 2015
Fall 2015 MERG
10 MERG Fall 2015
MILITARY EDUCATION RESOURCE GUIDE 17
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Meet the VAâ€™s Under Secretary for Benefits
Robert A. McDonald serves as the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Allison A. Hickey is an Air Force veteran
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve: The facts
Yellow Ribbon Program: How to use it
VA Work-Study Program: Earn while you learn
Fully Developed Claim: How to file
Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams: How to File a Complaint
Signs of a Diploma Mill
VA Launches New No-Cost Training Programs
VA benefits: How to maximize them Post-9/11 GI Bill: The basics
Post-9/11 GI Bill: How to use it
Post-9/11 GI Bill: Benefits
Post-9/11 GI Bill: Payment rates
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty: The facts Fall 2015 MERG 11
12 MERG Fall 2015
LOUDER THAN WORDS 72-81
FRANCHISE GUIDE 52
Thinking About Buying a Franchise?
Ready to be your own boss? Check in with some veterans who jumped boots-first into franchising. By Bryan Mitchell
Franchising: The basics
Opening a franchise: Whatâ€™s involved?
Franchising: The economic outlook
Franchise Financing: An SBA guide
Tactical Photo Gallery Final Frame
ON THE COVER Photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman The ongoing Operation CCAF Blitz campaign encourages technical sergeants to earn their Community College of the Air Force associateâ€™s degree so they can have the senior rater endorsement on enlisted performance reports.
Fall 2015 MERG 13
14 MERG Fall 2015
Fall 2015 MERG 15
TRANSITIONING & YOUR BENEFITS By Steve Wilson
Military service changes everyone, whether your time in uniform was four years or 24 years. But, the important thing to remember is one may be entitled to benefits earned while in the armed forces. In fact, history shows most veterans don’t know they’ve earned these benefits. Many have the “but that doesn’t apply to me” mindset. The transition from military life is often challenging as any veteran will most likely attest. As our armed forces continue the current massive drawdown, the days of having extra sets of hands at the workplace are gone. In fact, the men and women in uniform have been “doing more with less” for quite a long time. So, it’s not uncommon for transitioning service members to work up to their separation date, with military duties interrupting separation briefings and planning time. The full anxiety of separation is often only realized as a veteran and his or her family is leaving the base for the last time on active duty. This is happening every day as the men and women of America’s armed forces hang up their uniforms for the last time and many are not even remotely aware of the benefits they’ve earned. There’s no all-encompassing list provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs or a respective state where a veteran resides that spells out what benefits the veteran is eligible for or how to access them. This is where DAV can help. DAV offices and representatives can be found in every state. We know what federal and state benefits veterans have earned and, more importantly, we know how to access those benefits. DAV mobile service
16 MERG Fall 2015
offices travel all over the country to provide benefits counseling and claims assistance to veterans who can’t come to us. Finally, DAV has partnered with RecruitMilitary, which is an organization dedicated to matching veterans to employers who are seeking veteran talent. DAV is sponsoring 60-75 veteran career fairs per year to help veterans and their families find meaningful and fulfilling employment. If you’re a veteran who has questions about benefits earned through service, visit www.dav.org to find a service office in your area. If you or someone you know is a veteran or a transitioning service member and are looking for employment outside the military gates, go to www.dav.org/veterans/ employment-resources/.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs ROBERT A. MCDONALD
MCDONALD WAS CONFIRMED BY THE US SENATE ON JULY 29, 2014.
s Under Secretary for Benefits, HiPrior to joining VA, Secretary McDonald was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G). Under his leadership, P&G significantly recalibrated its product portfolio; expanded its marketing footprint, adding nearly one billion people to its global customer base; and grew the firm’s organic sales by an average of three percent per year. This growth was reflected in P&G’s stock price, which rose from $51.10 the day he became CEO to $81.64 on the day his last quarterly results were announced—a 60 percent increase from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, P&G was widely recognized for its leader development prowess. In 2012, Chief Executive Magazine named it the best company for developing leader talent. The Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, consistently cited P&G in its top-tier listing of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. The company received recognition for its environmental and social sustainability initiatives, including receipt of the Department of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence for P&G’s operations in Pakistan and Nigeria. In addition, using the company’s innovative water purification packets, P&G committed itself to the 2020 goal of “saving one life every hour” by annually providing two billion liters of clean drinking water to people in the world’s developing countries. An Army veteran, Mr. McDonald served with the 82nd Airborne Division; completed Jungle, Arctic, and Desert Warfare training; and earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Fall 2015 MERG 17
Secretary of Veterans Affairs ROBERT A. MCDONALD continued
Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Secretary McDonald graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the top 2 percent of the Class of 1975. He served as the Brigade Adjutant for the Corps of Cadets and was recognized by The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce as the most distinguished graduate in academics, leadership, and physical education. He earned an MBA from the University of Utah in 1978. The Secretary is personally committed to valuesbased leadership and to improving the lives of others. He and his wife, Diane, are the founders of the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at West Point—a biennial gathering that brings
together the best and brightest young minds from the best universities around the world and pairs them with senior business, NGO, and government leaders in a multi-day, interactive learning experience. The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honorary degrees, in 2014, Secretary McDonald was awarded the Public Service Star by the President of the Republic of Singapore for his work in helping to shape Singapore’s development as an international hub for connecting global companies with Asian firms and enterprises. Secretary McDonald and his wife are the parents of two grown children, Jennifer and Robert, and the proud grandparents of grandsons, Matthew and Michael.
PHOTO: EJ Herson
President Barack Obama signs the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act into law at Fort Belvoir, Va.
18 MERG Fall 2015
VETERANS FOUGHT FOR OUR WAY OF LIFE. IT’S OUR DUTY TO FIGHT FOR THEIRS. America’s 22 million veterans should get what they were promised. DAV helps veterans of all ages and their families get the health, disability and financial benefits they earned. And we connect them to vital services like claims assistance, medical transportation and job resources. If you’re a veteran who needs free help, or you’d like to help us keep the promise, visit DAV.org.
Fall 2015 MERG 19
Veterans Affairs UNDER SECRETARY FOR BENEFITS Allison A. Hickey
etired Brig. Gen. Allison A. Hickey assumed the duties of Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on June 6, 2011.
As Under Secretary for Benefits, Hickey leads more than 20,000 employees in the delivery of a wide range of integrated programs of non-medical benefits and services to Veterans, their dependents and survivors. Through a nationwide network of 56 regional offices, special processing centers, and VBA Headquarters, she directs the administration of VA’s disability compensation, pension, education,
home loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and life insurance programs, and an annual budget of $76.3 billion. Prior to her appointment, Hickey led Human Capital Management for the consulting company Accenture in their work for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency – supporting operational business processes for intelligence community organizations in the areas of customer relationship management, call center practices and 21st Century information technology systems. As the Director of the Air Force’s Future Total Force office at the Pentagon, she provided leadership and oversight for four divisions in the areas of strategic planning, mission development, public and congressional affairs and program and resource implementation for more than 140 new Air Force units. Hickey was responsible for shifting billions of dollars towards new capabilities across the Air Force portfolio and directing new organizational models for a world-wide 500,000 person organization including active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units and personnel to create a common Air Force policy, mission, and culture – known in the 20 MERG Fall 2015
Department as the Total Force Perspective. Prior to that assignment, Hickey served as the assistant deputy director of Strategic Planning, where she provided leadership and oversight for five divisions. She also served as chief of the Air Force Future Concepts and Transformation Division focused on the integration of technologies, organizations and concepts of operation to model for the Air Force of 2025. Hickey is a 27-year Veteran of the Air Force having served on active duty, in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve. Her Air Force career began in 1980 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s first class to include women. As a pilot and aircraft commander, she accumulated more than 1,500 hours of flight time in KC-10A, KC-135A, T-38 and T-37 aircraft. She is the daughter of retired Lt. Gen. William J. Hilsman, a Vietnam Army Veteran, and Jean Hilsman, who served as a director and past-president of the National Military Family Association and as the first Department of Defense Family Policy Office director. Hickey is married to retired Col. Robert Hickey, a 30-year Veteran and former A-10 and C-130 pilot. She and her husband have three children.
DISCOVER VAUGHN COLLEGE
LEARN ABOUT NEXT GENERATION EDUCATION AT VAUGHN.EDU ENGINEERING | TECHNOLOGY | MANAGEMENT | AVIATION Fall 2015 MERG 21
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VA BENEFITS
f you’re new to VA, it can be overwhelming to sift through all of the benefits and services offered and choose which ones are best for you and your family. Here is a quick “how to” guide for VA benefits. VA benefits can be split into two general categories – health care and non-medical benefits like compensation, education and home loans. If you served on active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Post-9/11 Combat Veterans (OEF/OIF/OND) are eligible for five years of cost-free care for illness and injury related to service and one-time dental care. The second category, non-medical VA benefits, is broken into six areas: Compensation, Education, Home Loans, Insurance, Pension & Fiduciary; and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.
VA’s disability claims process is currently undergoing a major transformation, including the creation of more than 40 new initiatives designed to decrease processing time and increase accuracy and service for service members, veterans, their families and survivors. VA is moving toward an electronic, rather than a paper-based, system and toward the goal of eliminating the veterans disability claims backlog and improving rating accuracy to 98% in 2015. The new Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is now the fastest way to get your compensation or pension claim processed.
Many service members choose to use VA’s education benefits shortly after leaving service or pass the benefits to family members. In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Post-9/11 GI Bill offers financial assistance for a variety of training programs, including: vocational/technical, on-the-job, flight and licensing/ certification programs.
22 MERG Fall 2015
In addition to tuition and fees, veterans may qualify for a monthly housing allowance and book stipend. The Vet Success on Campus program on school campuses across the country helps connect veterans with other student veterans and a variety of VA services, including free tutoring. VA’s Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program (VRAP) offers 12 months of training to unemployed veterans 35 to 60 years old.
Another frequently used VA benefit is the guaranteed home loan and refinancing assistance. VA also offers special grants for disabled veterans to adapt and acquire housing suitable for their needs.
Service Members and Veterans Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage recipients have two options available to them upon release from service: converting to the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program or a permanent plan with one of the participating commercial insurance companies.
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND EMPLOYMENT
VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. Benefits include vocational counseling, on the job training and apprenticeships. More information on all of VA’s benefits and services can be found at www.va.gov. Content provided by the VA.
Light Our Way and yOur Future
As a member of the military, you’ve trained hard, sacrificed, and led the way. Now it’s your time to shine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, America will need 4 million college graduates between 2010–2020.* We can help you become one of them. Not everyone has the mindset and discipline for success—but you do. You’ve already handled your share of tough challenges. Use that valuable training to forge a successful new path—one that sparks new opportunities for you and your family.
Bring out that spark inside you. SHINe NOW. military.kaplan.edu
*Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment Outlook 2010-2020: Occupational employment projections to 2020,” January 2012, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/01/art5full.pdf. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. For comprehensive consumer information, visit www.kaplanuniversity.edu/student-consumer-information.aspx.
Fall 2015 MERG 23
THE POST-9/11 GI BILL
he Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after Sept. 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Here is some basic information on eligibility and other questions about the bill. Am I eligible? You may be eligible if you served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, or were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability after serving 30 continuous days following September 10, 2001. Note: Children of a member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, may be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits under the Marine Gunnery John David Fry Scholarship Program. What will I receive? You may receive a percentage of the following payments:
—A Tuition and Fee payment that is paid to your school on your behalf. —A Books and Supplies Stipend of up to $1,000 per year. —A Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA)** that is equal to: • The basic allowance for housing (BAH)payable for the zip code of your school to a military E-5 with dependents for students pursuing resident training. • one-half the BAH national average for students training solely by distance learning. • the national average BAH for students pursuing training at foreign schools. **The MHA is not payable to individuals on active duty or those enrolled at half time or less. How many months of assistance can I receive and how long am I eligible? Generally, you may receive up to 36 months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You will be eligible for benefits for 15 years from your last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.
24 MERG Fall 2015
What kind of training can I take? You can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill at colleges, universities, trade schools, and for on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and light schools. To see what programs are currently approved for VA benefits, go to www.gibill.va.gov. You can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill for tutorial assistance, licensing (attorney license, cosmetology license, etc.) and certification tests (SAT, LSAT, etc.). Note: If the program you are interested in isn’t on the GI Bill website, contact your State Approving Agency (list available on www.gibill.va.gov) to see if it can be approved. Can I transfer my entitlement to my dependents? You must be a member of the uniformed services to transfer your unused benefits to your spouse or dependent(s). Generally, you must agree to serve four more years when transferring benefits. What Is the Yellow Ribbon program? The Post-9/11 GI Bill can cover all in-state tuition and fees at public degree-granting schools, but may not cover all private degree-granting schools and out-of-state tuition. The Yellow Ribbon program provides additional support in those situations. Institutions voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund uncovered charges. VA matches each dollar of unmet charges the institution agrees to contribute, up to the total cost of the tuition and fees. Content provided by the VA.
Fall 2015 MERG 25
26 MERG Fall 2015
Fall 2015 MERG 27
POST-9/11 GI BILL: HOW TO USE IT
he Post-9/11 GI Bill, enacted in 2008, is the most extensive educational assistance program authorized since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944. Just as the original GI Bill allowed veterans to take their educational opportunities and leverage them for breakthroughs in automation, business, medicine, science, transportation and technology, today’s Post-9/11 GI Bill provides veterans with the tools that will help them contribute to an economically strong, vibrant and resilient America. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is a comprehensive education benefit, paying tuition and fees on behalf of veterans or eligible dependents directly to the schools in which they are enrolled. Eligible participants also receive a monthly housing allowance and up to $1,000 annually for books and supplies. GI Bill benefits are tiered based on the number of days served on active duty, giving activated National Guard and Reserve members the same benefits as those on active duty. VA is committed to ensuring all service members, veterans, and family members eligible for the benefit receive a useful education without the burden of substantial student loan debt as they readjust to civilian life. As of July 9, 2013, VA has issued over $30 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit payments to approximately 992,000 individuals and their educational institutions. Executive Order 13607 directs VA, the Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Education, with help from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to develop and implement “Principles of Excellence” to strengthen oversight, enforcement and accountability within veteran and military educational benefit programs.
The Principles of Excellence are a set of guidelines with which institutions receiving federal funding agree to comply. The principles were designed to help ensure that students are given the right tools to assist them in making informed
28 MERG Fall 2015
decisions when choosing a school. The principles also seek to help protect veterans, service members, and their families from aggressive and deceptive marketing tactics. Schools agreeing to comply with the principles will: • Provide all military and veteran students with a personalized form covering the total cost of the educational program, pre-enrollment program costs, student debt estimates, and financial aid options. • Provide an educational plan for all military and veteran students. • Accommodate service members and reservists who are absent due to service requirements. • Designate points of contact for academic and financial advising • Ensure accreditation of all new programs prior to enrolling students. Participating schools also agree to have tuition refund policies similar to schools receiving Title IV funding. This means that service members, reservists and family members who stop attending school due to service obligations will be entitled to a prorated tuition refund based upon the day the student stops attending. To date, over 6,000 schools have agreed to adhere to the Principles of Excellence. VA has made it easy to identify participating schools by setting up a map on the GI Bill website to help find schools near you. Additional tools for student veterans can be found at www.gibill.va.gov. Content provided by the VA.
Troy University has provided highly respected academic degree programs to the nation’s military and their families for more than 60 years. Many of our University’s leaders have worn the uniform too, so we understand your needs for excellence, affordability and flexibility. Whether you want to study in class, online, or both, TROY offers many great programs including: • • • • •
Business Education Nursing Computer Science Criminal Justice
• • • • •
Psychology Liberal Arts Communication Art and Design and more
Visit www.troy.edu/military for more information about:
THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY
• Post 9/11 GI Bill and other financial aid options
• Readiness for successful transition
• Admissions & transcripts evaluation
• Career planning
• Transfer credits & credits for military experience – Ask for your TROY “FREE IN 48” report.
NOW, IT’S OUR TURN TO SERVE YOU
8 0 0 - 473 - 0975 •
Educate the mind to think, the heart to feel, the body to act.
• Military Friendly • Got Your Six
W W W .T R O Y. E D U / M I L I T A R Y
- TROY Motto 1887
UPPER IOWA UNIVERSITY YOUR DEGREE. YOUR WAY. • Programs that fit your busy life – on-base, online and self-paced • Tuition discounts available for the Total Military Family • Accepting ACE, CLEP, DSST, military experience and experiential learning • Member of GoArmyEd, NCPDLP, AU-ABC • 2015 Best Online Bachelor’s and Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans - U.S. News & World Report
y l p Ap ! y a tod
uiu.edu/defense Fall 2015 MERG 29
HOW TO USE YOUR POST-9/11 GI BILL BENEFITS
pproved training under the Post-9/11 GI Bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational/technical training, on-the-job training, flight training, correspondence training, licensing and national testing programs, entrepreneurship training, and tutorial assistance. All training programs must be approved for GI Bill benefits. This benefit provides up to 36 months of education benefits, generally benefits are payable for 15 years following your release from active duty. The Post-9/11 GI Bill also offers some service members the opportunity to transfer their GI Bill to dependents. Some of the benefits the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay include: —Full tuition and fees directly to the school for all public school in-state students. For those attending private or foreign schools tuition & fees are capped at the national maximum rate.
If you are attending a private Institution of Higher Learning in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania,
30 MERG Fall 2015
South Carolina or Texas you may be eligible for a higher tuition reimbursement rate. For those attending a more expensive private school or a public school as a non-resident out-of-state student, a program exists which may help to reimburse the difference. This program is called the “Yellow Ribbon Program”. —A monthly housing allowance (MHA). —An annual books & supplies stipend. —A one-time rural benefit payment. As of Aug. 1, 2011, break (or interval pay) is no longer be payable under Post-9/11 GI Bill except during periods your school is closed as a result of an Executive Order of the President or an emergency (such as a natural disaster or strike). For example, if your Fall term ends on Dec. 15 and your Spring term begins Jan. 10, your January housing allowance will cover 15 days in December and your February housing allowance will cover 21 days in January. Content provided by the VA.
transitioning into the civilian world... ...the challenge of deciding what comes next.
Veterans develop discipline, dedication, problem solving capabilities and numerous other useful skills while securing the freedoms this country holds dear. While transitioning into the civilian world, many of these highly-skilled men and women face the challenge of deciding what comes next. That’s where the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) enters the equation. PIA provides an avenue for veterans to utilize skills developed in service of this country while earning the knowledge and certifications necessary for careers in aircraft repair, robotics, manufacturing and many other hands-on careers. PIA trains students for the FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certification (A&P) and FCC General Radiotelephone Operator’s License (GROL) in 21 months or less. Veterans looking for a real-world, career-oriented education grounded in practical, hands-on experience need look no farther. What sets PIA apart? • Hands-on learning with real aircraft • Dedicated, ongoing placement assistance • Veteran instructors and small class-sizes • Every campus approved for VA Benefits PIA is more than an education: in fact, it’s the logical step to numerous career opportunities. With a 97% veteran graduate placement rate from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2014, PIA has proven that it will go above and beyond the call of duty in helping you start a career in aviation or a related field we train for. You’ve spent years serving this country. Now it’s our turn to serve you. Learn more about the education which has helped launch over 37,000 careers.
In-Demand Specialized Training for Skilled Hands-on Careers in: ● Aviation ●
● Robotics ●
● Manufacturing ●
School for Aviation Maintenance & Electronics
pia.edu • 1.800.444.1440
Pittsburgh, PA • Hagerstown, MD • Myrtle Beach, SC • Youngstown-Warren, OH Fall 2015 MERGContent 31 Sponsored
POST-9/11 GI BILL PAYMENT RATES FOR 2014 ACADEMIC YEAR
he Post-9/11 GI Bill program is comprised of multiple payments. All payments and maximum amounts listed on this page are applicable to individuals eligible for the full benefit (100% eligibility tier). If you are not eligible for the full benefit, the payment and maximum amounts listed will be prorated based on your eligibility percentage. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill you may receive a: • • • • •
Tuition & fee payment sent directly to the school Monthly housing allowance sent to you Books and supplies stipend sent to you One-time rural benefit for certain veterans Tuition and fee payments
Maximum Tuition & Fee Reimbursement per Academic Year Type of School
All tuition & fee payments for an in-state student
Private or Foreign School
Up to $19,198.31 per academic year national maximum (see next table for exceptions)
Tuition & Fee Reimbursements, Selected States Maximum tuition & fee reimbursement per academic year for students attending a private IHL in selected states and have been enrolled in the same program since Jan. 4, 2011 State
Maximum Charge per Credit Hour
Maximum Total Fees per Term
Note: If you are attending a public IHL as a non-resident student or a private IHL that is more expensive than the annual cap, you may be eligible for extra payment under the Yellow Ribbon program.
You may also be eligible to receive: • monthly housing allowance sent to you • books and supplies stipend sent to you • one-time rural benefit for certain veterans
32 MERG Fall 2015
Non-College Degree Granting Institutions Actual net costs for in-state tuition & fees not to exceed $19,198.31 during the academic year. You may also be eligible to receive: • a monthly housing allowance sent to you • a books and supplies stipend sent to you • a one-time rural benefit for certain veterans Apprenticeship / OJT Rates Apprenticeship and On-the-Job Training Training Period First six months of training Second six months of training Third six months of training Fourth six months of training Remaining pursuit of training
Monthly rate 100% of your applicable MHA 80% of your applicable MHA 60% of your applicable MHA 40% of your applicable MHA 20% of your applicable MHA
You may also be eligible to receive: • a books and supplies stipend sent to you Content provided by the VA.
Fall 2015 MERG 33
FACTS ABOUT THE MONTGOMERY GI BILL ACTIVE DUTY (MGIB-AD)
he MGIB program provides up to 36 months of education benefits. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. Remedial, deficiency and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances. Generally, benefits are payable for 10 years following your release from active duty. This program is also commonly known as Chapter 30. $600 Buy-Up Program Some service members may contribute up to an additional $600 to the GI Bill to receive increased monthly benefits. For an additional $600 contribution, you may receive up to $5,400 in additional GI Bill benefits. The additional contribution must be made while on active duty. For more information contact your personnel or payroll office. Who is Eligible? You may be an eligible veteran if you have an Honorable Discharge, AND you have a High School Diploma or GED or in some cases 12 hours of college credit, AND you meet the requirements of one of the categories below: The Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty provides up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans for: • • • • • • • • •
College Technical or vocational courses Correspondence courses Apprenticeship/job training Flight training High-tech training Licensing & certification tests Entrepreneurship training Certain entrance examinations
CATEGORY I • Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985 • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months • Continuously served for 3 years, OR 2 years if that is what you first enlisted for, OR 2 years if
34 MERG Fall 2015
you entered the Selected Reserve within a year of leaving active duty and served 4 years (“2 by 4” Program) CATEGORY II • Entered active duty before Jan. 1, 1977 • Served at least 1 day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85, and stayed on active duty through 6/30/88, (or 6/30/87 if you entered the Selected Reserve within 1 year of leaving active duty and served 4 years) • On 12/31/89, you had entitlement left from Vietnam-Era GI Bill CATEGORY III • Not eligible for MGIB under Category I or II • On active duty on 9/30/90 AND separated involuntarily after 2/2/91, • OR involuntarily separated on or after 11/30/93, • OR voluntarily separated under either the Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) or Special Separation Benefit (SSB) program • Before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1200 CATEGORY IV • On active duty on 10/9/96 AND you had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date AND you elected MGIB by 10/9/97 • OR entered full-time National Guard duty under title 32, USC, between 7/1/85, and 11/28/89 AND you elected MGIB during the period 10/9/96, through 7/8/97 • Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for 12 months or made a $1200 lump-sum contribution
PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III
Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Jason Reyes mans an engineering control station console in the central control station aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).
How Much Does VA Pay? The monthly benefit paid to you is based on the type of training you take, length of your service, your category, and if DoD put extra money in your MGIB Fund (called “kickers”). You usually have 10 years to use your MGIB benefits, but the time limit can be less, in some cases, and longer under certain circumstances. How Can I Apply? You can apply by filling out VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. Beginning August 1, 2011, break (or interval pay) will no longer be payable under MGIB-AD except during periods your school is closed as a result of an Executive Order of the President or an emergency (such as a natural disaster or strike). For example, if your Fall term ends on Dec. 15 and your Spring term begins Jan. 10, your January housing allowance will cover 15 days in December and your February housing allowance will cover 21 days in January.
Content provided by the VA.
Fall 2015 MERG 35
FACTS ABOUT THE MONTGOMERY GI BILL SELECTED RESERVE (MGIB-SR)
he MGIB-SR program may be available to you if you are a member of the Selected Reserve. The Selected Reserve includes the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. You may use this education assistance program for degree programs, certificate or correspondence courses, cooperative training, independent study programs, apprenticeship/on-the-job training, and vocational flight training programs. Remedial, refresher and deficiency training are available under certain circumstances. Eligibility for this program is determined by the Selected Reserve components. VA makes the payments for this program. You may be entitled to receive up to 36 months of education benefits. Your eligibility for the program normally ends on the day you leave the Selected Reserve. One exception to this rule exists if you are mobilized (or recalled to active duty from your reserve status). In this case your eligibility may be extended for the amount of time you are mobilized PLUS four months. For example, if you are mobilized for 12 months your eligibility period is extended for 16 months (12 months active duty PLUS 4 months.) So even if you leave the reserves after mobilization, you may have additional eligibility to the MGIB-SR. If your unit is deactivated during the period beginning on Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2014, or you are involuntarily separated for reasons other than misconduct, you will retain your original period of eligibility, which is 14 years from the date of your first six-year obligation with the selected reserves. Eligibility To qualify, you must meet the following requirements: • Have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985. If you are an officer, you must have agreed to serve six years in addition to your original obligation. For some types of training, it is necessary to have a six-year
36 MERG Fall 2015
commitment that begins after September 30, 1990. • Complete your initial active duty for training (IADT). • Meet the requirement to receive a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before completing IADT. You may not use 12 hours toward a college degree to meet this requirement. • Remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit. You will also retain MGIB SR eligibility if you were discharged from Selected Reserve service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct. Your eligibility period may be extended if you are ordered to active duty. How to Apply Your unit will give you a DD Form 2384-1, Notice of Basic Eligibility, when you become eligible for the program. Your unit will also code your eligibility into the Department of Defense personnel system so that VA may verify your eligibility. You should then make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. If you are not clear on this point, VA will inform you and the school or company about the requirements. Obtain and complete VA Form 22-1990, Application for Education Benefits. Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the State where you will train. If you have started training, take your application and your Notice of Basic Eligibility to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, (not available online) Enrollment Certification, and send all the forms to VA. Beginning August 1, 2011, break (or interval pay) will no longer be payable under MGIB-SR except during periods your school is closed as a result of an Executive Order of the President or an emergency (such as a
Continued on Page 28
FOUND ANOTHER WAY TO SERVE.
THAT WAS MY MOMENT.” Scott Green Undergraduate Cybersecurity Student
PROGRAMS IN HIGH-DEMAND FIELDS After being injured while serving his country, Scott experienced his Moment
Creating Moments, Building Your Future.
when he found another way to serve by pursuing his undergraduate degree in cybersecurity. He wants to make a diﬀerence by learning the proper techniques, policies, and procedures to protect and defend information systems in local and broad-based domains. UMUC can help you transition to your post-military career in high-demand ﬁelds with • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cybersecurity, information technology, business, public safety, and more • Up to 90 undergraduate transfer credits for your prior college coursework and military experience and training, saving you time and money • More than 140 classroom and service locations, including military installations throughout the world UMUC is the No. 1 university for veterans.*
Visit military.umuc.edu/education to learn more. *Military Times ranked UMUC No. 1 in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 annual survey of online and non-traditional colleges and universities.
Fall 2015 MERG 37
Copyright © 2015 University of Maryland University College
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kasey Krall
U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Angela M. Roberts studies for an advancement exam aboard aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), in the Atlantic Ocean. Continued from Page 26
natural disaster or strike). For example, if your Fall term ends on Dec. 15 and your Spring term begins Jan. 10, your January housing allowance will cover 15 days in December and your February housing allowance will cover 21 days in January. Numbers to Call Call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) Be advised this line only accepts calls from 7 a.m. 7 p.m. central time Monday - Friday and you may experience long hold times. If you are overseas you can contact the VA via telephone during business hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. Students and School Certifying Officials calling from outside the United States may call the Buffalo Regional
38 MERG Fall 2015
Office at 716-857-3196 or 716-857-3197. Once connected, the caller can immediately enter â€œoption 1â€? to be placed in a special priority queue. This is not a tollfree number, but the caller will be routed to the next available Customer Service Representative for priority service. This is for overseas customers only. All others should call the toll-free number or contact the VA via the website. Content provided by the VA.
Fall 2015 MERG 39
THE YELLOW RIBBON PROGRAM AND HOW TO USE IT The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay you: • all resident tuition & fees for a public school • the lower of the actual tuition & fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school • an exception to this exists for students enrolled in private schools in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Texas. In these cases the VA will pay the lower of the actual tuition & fees or the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition & fees. Your actual tuition & fees costs may exceed these amounts if you are attending a private school or are attending a public school as a nonresident student. Institutions of higher learning (degree-granting Institutions) may elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.
Institutions that voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with VA choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. VA will match that amount and issue payment directly to the institution. Eligibility Only veterans entitled to the maximum benefit rate (based on service requirements) or their designated transferees may receive this funding. Active-duty service members and their spouses are not eligible for this program (child transferees of active-duty service members may be eligible if the service member is qualified at the 100% rate). Therefore, you may be eligible if: • You served an aggregate period of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, of at least 36 months; • You were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001; • You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran’s service under the eligibility criteria listed above. • To receive benefits under the Yellow Ribbon Program: • You must be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. • You must not be on active duty or a spouse transferee of an active-duty member. • Your school must agree to participate in the Yellow Program. • Your school must have not offered Yellow Ribbon to more than the maximum number of individuals stated in their participation agreement. • Your school must certify your enrollment to VA, including Yellow Ribbon program information.
Content provided by the VA.
40 MERG Fall 2015
ollowing a three year hitch in the Army, which included a year of service in Iraq working as part of a convoy security team, Justin Birtch came back to the Montrose area with his family. Justin says that living in close proximity to natural gas exploration and development projects prompted him to learn more about the program at Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas. "I had heard that the curriculum offered was exactly what was needed to be able to hit the ground running in the industry," Justin says, adding that, if it were not for the school accepting the GI Bill, it wouldn't have been possible for him to attend school.
Justin brings to his studies the work ethic and values instilled during his Army service. He confesses that while he was never much for school, the petroleum & natural gas technology degree program is a good fit. "I intend to finish out my remaining two semesters, learning as much as I possibly can to be able to perform my job to the best of my ability.â€œ Justin secured a summer 2015 internship at DTE Energy, a company that has long supported returning military service people. "Supporting the Lackawanna College student intern program is an opportunity to provide more than 160 hours of on-the-job training. Students return as viable applicants for operations and controls jobs, and have industry and company specific knowledge, a clear advantage in a competitive hiring environment," says Beth Baumgartner, Human Resources. "DTE Energy and the Bluestone Gathering & Operations group in New Milford, PA are proud to support our military as they return to civilian life, school and work. DTE's outreach efforts have included participating in job fairs focused on veterans, such as the Hiring our Heroes program," Beth states, adding that the corporation has identified and targeted areas where veterans have been displaced through industry cycles and reached out to notify the veteran community of available jobs. DTE Energy jobs are posted in industry, academic and community partner locations where known veteran employment needs exist, such as when there were layoffs at the Kennedy Space Center. "Internally, DTE Energy celebrates our veterans through Veterans Day celebrations with displays, speakers and a ROTC presence at our corporate offices. Hiring of veterans in the Midstream Gathering operations has proven effective as we have a 100 percent retention rate." Since 2010, Lackawanna College has been included on the list of Military Friendly Schools. The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools which are doing the most to embrace America's veterans as students. Lackawanna also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information on the school and its programs, visit www.lackawanna.edu/png. STUDENT INFORMATION SESSIONS HELD MONTHLY & BY APPOINTMENT Call (570)465-2344 to register / Email: PNGSchool@Lackawanna.edu Visit us at www.Lackawanna.edu/png Located at Exit 219, I-81 GPS 41.82490 â€“ 75.68130 - 2390 State Route 848, New Milford, PA 11834
Fall 2015 MERG 41
EARN WHILE YOU LEARN: VA’S WORK-STUDY PROGRAM
A’s work study program gives student-veterans the opportunity for hands-on work experience and a monthly part-time income while they are going back to school as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill or other VA education benefit program. Through the VA-work study program, veterans who are three-quarter or full-time students in a college degree, vocational or professional program can “earn while they learn” with a VA work-study allowance. Students with service-connected disabilities of 30% or greater are given priority consideration in the program. Work-study students perform work related to the VA, including at education institutions, VA facilities, DOD facilities and state Veterans agencies. As executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, Terry Schow has hired and worked with dozens of student-veterans over the past 10 years. His workstudy trainees have come from a variety of education institutions, including the University of Utah, Salt Lake City Community College, Weber State University and Utah Valley University; and have gone on to continue their service in the veterans community through careers in
the field including as public affairs officers for VA medical centers, with veterans service organizations including Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and at VA’s Salt Lake City Regional Office. Through Terry’s work-study opportunity, student-veterans have the opportunity to learn all sides of the business while working with his staff – from direct outreach to veterans through planning and attending outreach events to answering calls and letters from veterans looking for more information on their VA and state veterans benefits. One recent work-study participant was hired full time for the state agency after he designed and launched a veterans database for the department. Why does Terry utilize VA’s work-study program to help hire student-veterans? Because they understand the mission of his office in the Utah State Department of Veterans Affairs and are comfortable working on a team. “There’s camaraderie between veterans,” which make them a key asset to the team, he says. Content provided by the VA.
A Wyoming Youth Challenge cadet works on computer applications classwork at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyo. PHOTO: 1st Lt. Christian Venhuizen
42 MERG Fall 2015
Ocean Corporation 2015_Layout 1 11/6/14 4:46 PM Page 1
Internationally Recognized Certifications POST 9/11 GI BILL ACCEPTED CLASSES START EVERY FIVE WEEKS
Proudly training men and women for exciting new careers since 1969. • Post 9/11 GI Bill Accepted • Financial Aid for Those Who Qualify • Job Placement Assistance for Graduates • Internationally Recognized Certification Program Students train at The Ocean Corporation to become commercial divers and industrial NDI inspectors. We have been in the business for over 40 years and we know the “nuts and bolts” of both industries.
10840 Rockley Road, Houston, TX 77099
Approved and Regulated by Texas Workforce Commission Accredited by Accrediting Commission of Career Schools & Colleges
Our hands-on training takes less than 8 months to complete and will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed. We invite you to visit our website or call one of our admissions representatives to explore what an education from The Ocean Corporation can do for you.
Fall 2015 MERG 43
GET THE FASTEST CLAIM DECISION:
HOW TO FILE A FULLY DEVELOPED CLAIM
he Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional new initiative that offers veterans, service members and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.
When veterans, service members and survivors submit all required records and documentation at the time they make their claim and certify that they have no further evidence, VA can review and process the claim more quickly. Here’s how: Why submit a Fully Developed Claim (FDC)? You get a faster decision because it saves VA time. When you file a claim, the law requires VA to make an exhaustive search on your behalf to obtain service records and other relevant evidence held by federal agencies and requires VA to ask at least twice for relevant evidence held by private parties, unless they are received on the first request. By submitting all your evidence with your FDC, identifying any relevant records held by federal agencies and verifying that you have no more evidence to submit, you shave a lot of the wait time off the process. There is no risk in filing an FDC. If VA finds that there is a piece of relevant evidence you did not submit, but should have included (like private medical records), VA will obtain that evidence on your behalf and process your claim the traditional way. What kind of records do you need to submit? Military personnel and treatment records are vital to establishing your claim for compensation. Military personnel records can contain deployment orders, pay records, medals and certificates not reflected on the DD214. Other federal records, like those from Social Security Administration (SSA), are often necessary too – they may contain medical evidence and sometimes even evidence as to the cause of a disability. Non-federal records, like medical files from your private doctor, are also important to establishing a claim. These can tell VA the degree of your condition, if it has become
44 MERG Fall 2015
worse over time and general information needed for rating purposes. How do I file an FCD? Go on to the Internet and log on to your eBenefits account. Click Apply for Benefits and then Apply for Disability Compensation. eBenefits will guide you through the process. You can answer the questions and upload all your supporting evidence all at once, or you can start and save your claim online, collect your supporting evidence and log back in to finish applying. Once you hit Save, you have one year to return to eBenefits, upload your evidence and click Submit. Don’t forget to save – in many cases VA may be able to pay benefits as early as the date you first save that application. Your Veterans Service Officer can also log into the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal – a VSO’s window into your eBenefits account – to look over your claim and give you advice before you press Submit. Once you have collected all your supporting evidence, log back into eBenefits and upload all your documents. There is no limit to number of documents you can upload, but each file must be 5 megabytes or smaller (about 150 black-andwhite pages at 300 dpi resolution). Once you verify that you have no more evidence, VA can start processing your claim right away. If you do submit more evidence after you submit the claim, VA will remove your claim from the FDC program and process it through our regular channels. For more tips on submitting your claim, click here. The FDC program is the fastest way to get an accurate decision on your VA claim. By ensuring you submit all your evidence with your claim, you allow the VA to get you an accurate decision as quickly as possible. Content provided by the VA.
BUILD ON YOUR MILITARY SKILLS.
In just 20 weeks, transition to an exciting, challenging, and well-paying career as a Commercial Diver/ Underwater Welder.
• Approved for Military Beneets • Financial Aid available for those who qualify
PICK UP THE TORCH AT CDA TECHNICAL INSTITUTE CALL 8889742232 OR VISIT WWW.CDA.EDU
For more information about graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program and other important information, visit www.cda.edu.
PHOTO: Cpl. Patrick J. McMahon
Marines assigned to The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, as part of the Battle Color Detachment, perform during the Battle Colors Ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.
Fall 2015 MERG 45
SCHOLARSHIP AND FINANCIAL AID SCAMS: HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
eed money for college? Doesn’t everybody? With tuition bills skyrocketing, and room and board going through the roof, students and their families are looking for creative ways to finance a college education. Unfortunately, in their efforts to pay the bills, many of them are falling prey to scholarship and financial aid scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, unscrupulous companies guarantee or promise scholarships, grants or fantastic financial aid packages. Many use high pressure sales pitches at seminars where you’re required to pay immediately or risk losing out on the “opportunity.” Some unscrupulous companies guarantee that they can get scholarships on behalf of students or award them “scholarships” in exchange for an advance fee. Most offer a “money back guarantee” – but attach conditions that make it impossible to get the refund. Others provide nothing for the student’s advance fee – not even a list of potential sources; still others tell students they’ve been selected as “finalists” for awards that require an upfront fee. Sometimes, these companies ask for a student’s checking account to “confirm eligibility,” then debit the account without the student’s consent. Other companies quote only a relatively small “monthly” or “weekly” fee and then ask for authorization to debit your checking account – for an undetermined length of time. Other companies claim they have programs that could make you eligible to receive financial aid, including grants, loans, workstudy and other types of aid. For a processing fee, they’ll handle all the paperwork. But experts caution: The only application that will determine eligibility for all programs is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – a form you can complete and submit for free. The FTC cautions students to look and listen for these telltale lines: • • • • • •
The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.” “You can’t get this information anywhere else.” “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.” “We’ll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee.” “The scholarship will cost some money.” “You’ve been selected” by a “national foundation” to receive a scholarship – or “You’re a finalist” in a contest you never entered.
If you attend a seminar on financial aid or scholarships, follow these steps:
46 MERG Fall 2015
Take your time. Don’t be rushed into paying at the seminar. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to buy now or risk losing out on the opportunity. Solid opportunities are not sold through nerve-racking tactics. Investigate the organization you’re considering paying for help. Talk to a guidance counselor or financial aid advisor before spending your money. You may be able to get the same help for free. Be wary of “success stories” or testimonials of extraordinary success – the seminar operation may have paid “shills” to give glowing stories. Instead, ask for a list of at least three local families who’ve used the services in the last year. Ask each if they’re satisfied with the products and services received. Be cautious about purchasing from seminar representatives who are reluctant to answer questions or who give evasive answers to your questions. Legitimate business people are more than willing to give you information about their service. Ask how much money is charged for the service, the services that will be performed and the company’s refund policy. Get this information in writing. Keep in mind that you may never recoup the money you give to an unscrupulous operator, despite stated refund policies.
The FTC says many legitimate companies advertise that they can get students access to lists of scholarships in exchange for an advance fee. Other legitimate services charge an advance fee to compare a student’s profile with a database of scholarship opportunities and provide a list of awards for which a student may qualify. And, there are online scholarship search engines. The difference: Legitimate companies never guarantee or promise scholarships or grants. If you’re contacted by companies or visit websites that say they’ll process your FAFSA for a fee, do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Visit StudentAid.gov, the U.S. Department of Education’s site for free information on preparing for and funding education beyond high school. You can complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov, and learn about other FAFSA filing options at www.fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm. You also can call 1-800-4-FED-AID. Content provided by the VA.
SIGNS OF A DIPLOMA MILL NO STUDIES, NO EXAMS, NO INTERACTION If you’re getting a degree without doing any work, chances are you’re dealing with a diploma mill. Legitimate colleges or universities — including online schools — require substantial course work and interaction with professors. “GET A DEGREE FOR YOUR EXPERIENCE!” Diploma mills grant degrees for “work or life experience” alone. Accredited colleges may give a few credits for specific experience relevant to a degree program, but not an entire degree. FLAT FEE Many diploma mills charge on a per-degree basis. Legitimate colleges charge by the credit, course, or semester — not a flat fee for an entire degree. NO WAITING Though there are schools that offer accelerated degrees inperson or online, earning a degree still takes some time. If an ad promises that you can earn a degree in a few days, weeks, or even months, it’s probably a diploma mill. PUSHY ADVERTISING TACTICS Some diploma mills push themselves through aggressive sales tactics. Legitimate institutions, including distance learning programs, won’t advertise through spam or pop-ups. They won’t use high-pressure telemarketing calls, either.
DOING YOUR HOMEWORK It may be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate school and a diploma mill. Many bogus degree programs have well-designed websites and familiar sounding names in order
to seem real. Before you pay any money to an organization that promises a degree for a fee, ask these questions. IS THIS SCHOOL REALLY ACCREDITED? BY WHOM? Although many diploma mills claim to be “accredited,” the credentials are likely from a phony agency. Colleges and universities accredited by legitimate organizations undergo a rigorous review of the quality of their educational programs. You can search online to see if a school is accredited by a legitimate organization. Here are two reliable sources to check: • Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs posted by the U.S. Department of Education • Council for Higher Education Accreditation database There are a small number of legitimate institutions that have not pursued accreditation. IS THIS A SOUND-ALIKE, OR THE REAL THING? Some diploma mills use names that are very similar to well-known colleges or universities, or use crediblesounding foreign names. Unfortunately, a “dot edu” web address is no guarantee of legitimacy. Though it can be challenging, it’s worth the time to research the legitimacy of the school you are considering. • Call the registrar of a local college or university and ask if it would accept transfer credits from the school you are thinking about attending • Contact your state attorney general’s office to make sure the school is operating legally Content provided by the VA.
Fall 2015 MERG 47
VA LAUNCHES NEW NO-COST TRAINING PROGRAMS
Programs Designed to Help Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans Develop New Skills and Credentials
he Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today launched two new no-cost training programs, Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs, to help transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans from all eras learn skills, earn credentials, and advance in civilian careers following separation from service. ALPs and Learning Hubs are part of VA’s Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), promoting education and employment opportunities for Veterans through integrated networks of support in 50 cities. VA launched the VECI program in response to President Obama’s August 2014 challenge to help Veterans and families integrate with their communities and find meaningful jobs that can lead to economic success. Under VA Secretary Robert McDonald’sMyVA transformation, VECI is now in place in cities across the United States. “My message to transitioning Servicemembers is simple: Plan early and stay engaged, because transition is the mission,” said McDonald. “These two new resources provide no-cost opportunities for our transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans to learn new skills and earn credentials, which can increase their competitiveness during their transition.” ALPs offer transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans the opportunity to build on their world-class training and technical skills gained through their military service, and earn certifications in high-demand fields. VA is piloting ALPs this summer with seven courses focusing on building skills and certifications needed to advance in high-demand careers in information technology (IT), as part of the President’s TechHire initiative. Each ALP course is offered at no cost and includes free referral and support services.. The first ALP cohort includes seven courses covering a range of IT-related topics, including: • Coding/Programming Boot Camps; • 80+ IT Certifications in Hardware, Software, Networking, Web Services, and more; • Network Support Engineer Job Training and Certification;
48 MERG Fall 2015
• Cybersecurity Training and Certification; • IT Help Desk Job Training; and • IT Boot Camps for Desktop Support and Windows Expertise. Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans from any era are invited to apply to their choice of courses. Applications will be accepted starting August 17, 2015 – seats in the pilot cohort are limited; applicants are encouraged to apply early. ALPs do not involve use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.. Students are able to participate in these programs while also pursuing other programs of study using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Visit the ALP website to learn more about each program and apply. VA is also launching Learning Hubs in 27 cities across the country this year in partnership with the American Red Cross, The Mission Continues and Coursera, an online education platform. Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans can take advantage of both online and in-person study. Each week, online course modules will be completed outside the classroom while class sessions, led by Learning Hub facilitators, provide opportunities to discuss course materials with peers, hear from subject matter experts, and network. Upon completion of the program, Servicemembers and Veterans may elect to receive one free verified certificate issued by Coursera. For more information about the VECI or to learn more about VA ALPs and Learning Hubs, contact VeteranEmployment.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Content provided by the VA.
NYC Veterans, Trauma & Resilience: What’s New A Professional Conference Exploring Healing and Community Integration November 20–21, 2015 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture* F EATURING
Joseph Bobrow Roshi, PhD
Bessel van der Kolk, MD
Brigadier Gen. (fmr) Loree K. Sutton, MD
Col. (Ret.) E.C. Hurley, PhD, LMFT
Reg E. Cathey
Laurie Leitch, PhD
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Tom Steffens
Col. Richard P. Petri, MD
Annie Okerlin, RYT
Capt. (fmr) Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD
and more Supported in part by
Explore more at eOmega.org/vetsNYC or call 800.944.1001
*The views, content, and opinions expressed during this event are solely those of the presenter and are not endorsed by the New York Society for Ethical Culture and its membership.
An advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Fall 2015 MERG 49
Lt. Cmdr. Troy Brown, executive officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4, greets his family on the flight line at Naval Base Ventura County following his return to homeport.
50 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Chief Mass Communication Specialist Lowell Whitman
Fall 2015 MERG 51
THINKING ABOUT BUYING A FRANCHISE? BEING A FRANCHISEE When you buy a franchise, you get to operate a business and sell goods or services with name recognition. You buy a format or system developed by the franchisor, and training and support. But investing in a franchise, like all investments, involves financial risk. Franchisees must commit money and time, and must operate by the franchisor’s playbook.
THE FRANCHISOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES Franchisors also have legal responsibilities, which are spelled out in the Franchise Rule. For example, franchisors must give potential franchisees important information in a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) at least 14 days before a contract is signed or any payment is made. In addition, some states require a franchisor to submit its FDD to state examiners for review before it can lawfully sell the franchise in the state. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the Franchise Rule.
5 FACTORS TO CONSIDER
If you’re thinking about investing in a franchise, consider: YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION Buying into a franchise is a major investment. How much do you have to safely invest? Can you afford to lose your entire investment? Will you invest on your own or with partners? Do you need financing? Where will you get it?
YOUR NEED FOR INCOME Do you need a specific minimum annual income? It can
52 MERG Fall 2015
take years for an investment in a franchise to become profitable; some franchises never make it. Do you have savings or another source of income to support yourself and your family until the franchise can?
YOUR ABILITIES AND GOALS Consider your experience as a business owner or manager. What special skills do you have? Do you want a franchise that requires technical experience, or specialized training or education, like auto repair, home or office decorating, or tax preparation? What kind of work environment and routines do you prefer? Will you run the business yourself or hire a manager?
YOUR TIMETABLE Is a multi-year commitment right for you? Franchise agreements generally are for several years, often 5 or 10. It can be difficult to end an agreement early. Once you commit to a franchise contract, you have to stay with it until the term ends, even if you’re not making as much money as you expected, or making a profit at all. How long do you want to stay in one location and engaged in one business?
YOUR COMFORT WORKING UNDER A FRANCHISOR’S CONTROL As a franchisee, you are a business owner, but you don’t operate independently. You’re part of a network and you must follow rules that call for uniformity. A franchisor may limit your choices about sales area, training, suppliers, or the merchandise you sell. You may pay advertising fees and buy or lease from suppliers the franchisor chooses. If exercising creativity is important to you, think about whether you would be comfortable working with a franchisor’s controls.
Get Get Get Your Your Your Post-Military Post-Military Post-Military Education Education Education & &Training Training & Training @ @Chattahoochee Chattahoochee @ Chattahoochee Technical Technical Technical College. College. College. . .. . . .
Programs Programs Programs of Study of Study of Study
. . .. .AND . . AND . . JOIN AND JOIN THE JOIN THE WORKFORCE THE WORKFORCE WORKFORCE SOONER! SOONER! SOONER!at CTC at CTC include: atinclude: CTC include: Business Business Business
● 2 ●Years 2 Years ● or less 2 or Years lessor less o Certificate o Certificate o Certificate o Diploma o Diploma o Diploma o Degree o Degree o Degree
Accounting Accounting Accounting ● Financial ● Financial ● Aid Financial Aid Available Available Aid Available Business Business Admin. Business Admin.Admin. o VA o Benefits VAoBenefits VA Benefits Computers Computers Computers Logistics/Supply Logistics/Supply Logistics/Supply ChainChain Chain o Pell o Grant PelloGrant Pell Grant Management Management Management Marketing Marketing (Federal (Federal Supplemental (Federal Supplemental Supplemental Marketing o FSEOG o FSEOG o FSEOG Educational Educational Educational Opportunity Opportunity Opportunity Grant) Grant) Grant) Health Health Health ● 45● Programs 45 Programs ● 45of Programs Study of Study of Study Billing/Coding Billing/Coding Billing/Coding o Georgia o Georgia oResidents Georgia Residents Residents Central Central Sterile Central Sterile Sterile o High o High demand o demand Highfields demand fields fields Clinical Clinical Lab Clinical Lab Lab ▶ HOPE ▶ HOPE Grant/Scholarship ▶ HOPE Grant/Scholarship Grant/Scholarship o Online o Online &o on-ground Online & on-ground & on-ground courses courses courses EMT/Paramedic EMT/Paramedic EMT/Paramedic (Strategic (Strategic Industries (Strategic Industries Industries Health ▶ SIWDG ▶ SIWDG ▶ SIWDG Health Admin. Health Admin. Asst.Admin. Asst. Asst. Health Care Health Care Mgt. Mgt. Care Mgt. Workforce Workforce Development Workforce Development Development Grant) Grant) Grant)Health
Health Health Info. Health Info. Tech.Tech. Info. Tech. Medical Medical Asstg. Medical Asstg. Asstg. NurseNurse Asst. Asst. Nurse Asst. Nursing NursingNursing Occupational Occupational Occupational Therapy TherapyTherapy Physical Physical Therapist Physical Therapist Asst. Therapist Asst. Asst. Radiography Radiography Radiography Surgical Surgical Tech. Surgical Tech. Tech.
Technical Technical Technical Automotive/Diesel Automotive/Diesel Automotive/Diesel Biomedical Biomedical Biomedical GilmerGilmer Co. Co. Gilmer Co. Bldg/Facilities Bldg/Facilities Bldg/Facilities Maint.Maint. Maint. Cosmetology Cosmetology Cosmetology APPALACHIAN APPALACHIAN APPALACHIAN Criminal Criminal Justice Criminal Justice Justice CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS Pickens Pickens Co. Co. Pickens Co. Design/Media Design/Media Design/Media Prod.Prod. Prod. DraftingDrafting CANTON CANTON CAMPUS CANTON CAMPUS CAMPUS Drafting BartowBartow Co. Co. Bartow Co. Early Early Childhood Childhood Early Childhood Cherokee Cherokee Co. Cherokee Co. Co. Environmental Environmental Environmental Tech.Tech. Tech. WOODSTOCK WOODSTOCK WOODSTOCK NORTHNORTH METROMETRO NORTH METRO www.ChattahoocheeTech.edu/ www.ChattahoocheeTech.edu/ www.ChattahoocheeTech.edu/ Fire Science Fire Science Fire Science CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS Horticulture Horticulture Horticulture Enrollment/Veteran-student/ Enrollment/Veteran-student/ Enrollment/Veteran-student/ MOUNTAIN MOUNTAIN VIEW MOUNTAIN VIEW VIEW HVACHVAC HVAC CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS Industrial Industrial Industrial Veteran Veteran Services Veteran Services Coordinator: Services Coordinator: Coordinator: PAULDING PAULDING PAULDING Cobb Co. Cobb Co.Cobb Co. CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS Interiors InteriorsInteriors MARIETTA CAMPUS MARIETTA CAMPUS CAMPUS barry.munday@ChattahoocheeTech.edu barry.munday@ChattahoocheeTech.edu barry.munday@ChattahoocheeTech.edu Paulding Paulding Co. Paulding Co. Co. MARIETTA Motorcycle Motorcycle Svc. Motorcycle Svc. Svc. AUSTELL AUSTELL AUSTELL Truck Truck driving driving Truck driving 770-443-3612. 770-443-3612. 770-443-3612. CAMPUS CAMPUS CAMPUS TV Production TV Production TV Production Welding WeldingWelding Fall 2015 MERG 53 AT L ANTA AT L ANTA AT L ANTA
TIRED OF TAKING ORDERS?
Maybe it’s time to be your own boss
fter years of relocating on demand and deploying to some of the planet’s most inhospitable locales, many former military members want to take control of their postmilitary lives by launching a business, with all the inherent risks and rewards. Opening a franchise – an established business that has independently operated locations – is one way to temper the risks of going it alone. Franchises offer veterans a tried and true model for success backed by a robust support system, says Terry Hill, who manages the Veterans Franchise program for the Washington-based International Franchise Association. Fast food, shipping companies and business service operations are the most popular franchising opportunities. “Included in the cost of purchasing a franchise are key items such as a tested business concept, training, brand recognition and the support of the parent company, which allows the new owner to focus on operations much more quickly since the start-up phase is already accomplished,” he says. It’s difficult to quantify how many vets operate franchises, but VetFran has helped 1,500 veterans establish a franchise in roughly a decade. It can cost $20,000 or more to start a franchise, but Hill says nearly 400 franchises work with his organization to offer veteran discounts. “The business format holds many similarities to military organizations, which require close adherence to a proven plan, teamwork and mission focus,” Hill says. “Veterans, having been exposed to a culture of discipline and training, adapt well to this structure.” Economic challenges could be leading more veterans to consider franchises, but tightened lending standards could make it more difficult to raise the necessary capital, Hill says.
54 MERG Fall 2015
By Bryan Mitchell Part of VetFran’s appeal is its longstanding partnership with the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration, both excellent resources for those considering a franchise.
fter 30 years and 30 days in an Air Force uniform and more than 4,000 combined hours in the F-15 and F-16, Steve Carey took a moment to survey the landscape after his 2007 retirement. He had offers from defense contractors, but “nothing that rang my bell,” he says. That’s when he turned his attention toward buying a franchise, hoping to settle down in one location and create a legacy for his family. CertaPro Painters – a national operation with an established reputation and more than 300 outlets – caught his attention. “I looked at restaurants and storefront operations, but this business is different in that I am out in the community interacting with homeowners and business owners,” he says. “I get to size them up while they size me up.” His research also helped steer him toward the franchise. “It’s not that I have a passion for painting, but I do have a passion for growing a business,” he says. “CertaPro had a corporate long-term strategy that focused on developing a national reputation as America’s No. 1 home painters, much like the Air Force’s long-term strategy to be the world’s most respected airpower. Running a business, he said, requires leadership similar to commanding a fighter squadron. “It’s about dealing with people and issues every day.” Hill says that type of detailed research is critical. “Although a veteran may be familiar with a certain franchise such as a restaurant, it’s important to look beyond the tables filled with satisfied customers and get a deep understanding of the personal commitment and capital that owning such an establishment would require,” he says. Carey’s Mobile, Ala.,-based outfit was recently named the most successful CertaPro in Alabama.
eter Turner served as a naval aviator for 20 years and was ready to keep flying following his retirement. But after taking a hard look at the prospects for commercial pilots, Turner reconsidered. “My focus was transitioning to the airlines originally, but that would have meant too much time away from home. With three teenagers coming up, that worried me, as did the omnipresent threat of a pink slip,” he says. “The worst part is that mergers, strikes or worse are beyond your control.” Research, not love of donuts or piping-hot coffee, led him to Dunkin’ Donuts. He opened his first outlet in 2008 and soon expanded with three additional stores. He says he researched the franchise and learned the company “has superb support in place with architects, construction, operating systems as well as a fiercely loyal following of customers.” Turner said his skills honed as a military commander leading and managing subordinates have been crucial to his success. “Take great care of your people and they will go the extra mile for you. With staffing, four aces beats seven average cards,” he says. “Operations are operations. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a squadron or a string of restaurants.” But being a savvy businessman doesn’t hurt either. Choosing the right location -- Raleigh, N.C. – helped, because the city escaped the worst of the recession. When the economy was weak he lowered prices to beat out the competition and expanded while interest rates, construction costs and real estate were all less expensive.
International Franchise Association: www.franchise.org Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/ start/buyafranchise/index.html Entrepreneur magazine: www.entrepreneur.com/ franchiseopportunities/index.html Franchise Update Network: www.franchise-update.com
Besides his wife, Turner also teamed with a financial partner on his first store. Hill says all franchises should look toward two other key partners: attorneys and accountants. “While that step will incur expenses, it’s much better to have professionals, who know franchising, provide guidance,” he says. For Turner, the sky is once again the limit. He hoped to open 35 stores amid expansion nationwide by Dunkin’ Donuts and, hopefully, to one day own a seaplane.
om Mitchell was the accidental franchisee. After 24 years in the Army in which he learned Chinese and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Mitchell landed a teaching job in suburban Washington, D.C., and thought he would be teaching until his next retirement. But after the family moved to Washington state and he was unable to land a teaching gig, Mitchell considered a franchise. His research led him to open a UPS Store. “They give you the SOP, just like they do in the military,” he says. “You just do what people have done before. You can modify as you see fit over time, but at least you’ve got the playbook.” Nearly any military veteran can appreciate the complexity of logistics. “We provide a reliable product and what many people believe is not a reasonable price, but after doing some analyzing about what it takes to get a package there by 10:30 the next day, we offer a very fair price,” he says. The biggest challenge has been adjusting to the civilian workforce. “After so many years in the Army, it’s really a shock to work with people who don’t carry their weight and to deal with difficult customers,” he says. “But you learn. You learn to cut things off before they become trouble.” Most parent organizations require an eight- to 10year contract, and even the most seemingly fool-proof business could crash and burn in a shaky economy. “During boom times, anybody can open a franchise and do well, but in (recessionary) times … you really have to do all your homework and be prepared to work incredibly hard to make it happen,” Carey says. “But there is still tremendous opportunity for those willing to take the risk and invest themselves in growing a business.”
Fall 2015 MERG 55
COMET CLEANERS IS EXPANDING BECOME A PART OF HISTORY! Over the last century, dry cleaning methods gradually evolved resulting in cleaner, well-preserved garments for its clients. Due largely to the pioneering efforts of Jack Godfrey & Sons Inc. since the 1920’s, Comet Cleaners’ equipment efficiency and reliability have improved. In the 21st century, Comet Cleaners shall remain a worldwide leader in the dry cleaning business with its revolutionary concepts of providing price, quality and convenience to its clients.
We invite you to consider the Comet Cleaners opportunity today! “Comet Cleaners Franchise showed me how to take the discipline, leadership training, and organizational skills that I learned in the Army and turn it into a successful business in the private sector.” – Dan Schneider, Former U.S. Army AH-1 Cobra Pilot and Gulf War Veteran Comet Cleaners franchisee since 1994, Las Cruces, NM – 3 stores
aThe dry cleaning industry is $9 billion in the US alone a50+ year brand history aLow initial investment aExperienced technicians in plant
construction & equipment installation
“Skills I learned as a Marine help me as an entrepreneur. Listening to the leadership and advise of the Comet Cleaners franchise office has enabled me to grow and expand into a multi-million dollar business.” – Sgt Burt Fisher, USMC. Desert Storm Veteran. Comet franchisee since 1997, Midland, TX –4 stores
aEase of operation aCorporate site location evaluation aLargest family owned dry cleaning chain in the USA aContinues to survive tough economic times aNo late nights, no Sundays
aComprehensive training and support aProven advertising guidelines aNo shrink or inventory spoilage aSBA Approved Franchise aMinimal labor (average 12 employees) … aLow employee to gross sales ratio
For details: 888.461.3555 cometcleaners.com/franchise
56 MERG Fall 2015
hen I decided to make a career change and leave the military, it was not an easy decision. Being an AH-1 Cobra platoon leader with 1-7 Cav, 1St Cavalry Division was both challenging and rewarding, and I had a clear career path in the Army as a pilot and commissioned officer. Something, however, was missing. As much as I loved flying, it was not enough to keep me from pursuing a life-long dream of being in business for myself. Even as I flew missions in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, I knew there was another, albeit less glamorous, career awaiting me. I tried working in corporate America for a year, but quickly found it to be monotonous and uninspiring.
In a word, my life had become ordinary. The comradery, the striving for excellence and the excitement of the daily challenge of Army life was missing in my life. Since I did not come from a business background and still desired the freedom of being an entrepreneur, I began an extensive search for the right franchise in the best industry. After a year with an international pharmaceutical company, I decided to follow my dream of owning my own business and a dry-cleaning franchise was the perfect fit. Going from the helicopter flight line to the laundry inspection line was made easy for me, thanks to Comet Cleaners. What I discovered is the core values that I learned in the military are the foundation for success in business. In fact, the team at CCFG made the transition to the private sector easy, because they share those same values. They showed me how to take the discipline, leadership training and organizational skills that I learned in the Army and turn it into a successful business in the private sector. Ultimately, building a successful small business comes down to trust and personal relationships. The right franchise system combined with a corporate ethic based on trust and a commitment to excellence has been the foundation of our success. the Comet Cleaners franchise is a smart choice for anyone who dreams of starting their own business. Dan Schneider Former U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot, Platoon Leader and Gulf War Veteran Owner of three Comet Cleaners Las Cruces, New Mexico Fall 2015 MERG 57
THE BASICS OF FRANCHISE BUSINESSES W ant to be your own boss, but not willing to take on the risk of starting your own business from scratch? Franchising can be a great alternative if you want to have some guidance in the start-up phase of the business. What is Franchising? A franchise is a business model that involves one business owner licensing trademarks and methods to an independent entrepreneur. Sometimes, franchises are referred to as chains. There are two primary forms of franchising: • Product/trade name franchising, in which the franchisor owns the right to the name or trademark and sells that right to a franchisee. • Business format franchising. The franchisor and franchisee have an ongoing relationship, and the franchisor often provides a full range of services, including site selection, training, product supply, marketing plans and even assistance in obtaining financing Before Investing in a Franchise Before you decide to franchise, you need to do your research. You could lose a significant amount of money if you do not investigate a business carefully before you buy. By law, franchise sellers must disclose certain information about their business to potential buyers. Make sure you get all the information you need first before entering into this form of business. To learn more about franchising opportunities, visit the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection. The decision to purchase a franchise involves many factors. To help you explore if franchising is right for you, consider the following questions: • Do you know how much you can invest? • What are your abilities? • What are your goals? Content by the U.S. Small Business Administration. 58 MERG Fall 2015
Franchising Strategy You need a strategy before investing in a franchise. Doing your homework about the franchise first will help you gain a solid understanding of what to expect as well as the risks that could be involved. • Be a Detective
In addition to the routine investigation that should be conducted prior to any business purchase, you should be able to contact other franchisees before deciding to invest. You can obtain a Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC), which contains vital details about the franchise’s legal, financial, and personnel history, before you sign a contract. • Know What You are Getting Into Before entering into any contract as a franchisee, you should make sure that you would have the right to use the franchise name and trademark, receive training and management assistance from the franchisor, use the franchisor’s expertise in marketing, advertising, facility design, layouts, displays and fixtures and do business in an area protected from other competing franchisees. • Watch Out for Possible Pitfalls The contract between the two parties usually benefits the franchisor far more than the franchisee. The franchisee is generally subject to meeting sales quotas and is required to purchase equipment, supplies and inventory exclusively from the franchisor. • Seek Professional Help The tax rules surrounding franchises are often complex, and an attorney, preferably a specialist in franchise law, should assist you to evaluate the franchise package and tax considerations. An accountant may be needed to determine the full costs of purchasing and operating the business as well as to assess the potential profit to the franchisee. Get More Information If you are considering purchasing a franchise, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has a wide range of resources and guides to help you buy a franchise and avoid franchise taboos.
Fall 2015 MERG 59
OPENING A FRANCHISE: WHAT’S INVOLVED?
ome people who are interested in becoming owners of a franchise business enthusiastically bring up the fact that they’d like to open more than one franchise.
Let’s find out what’s involved.
Choosing and investigating a franchise First off, you have to choose, investigate and buy the right franchise. Once you do that, you can start thinking about opening your second one. So, let’s start at the beginning. 1. Do you thoroughly understand the franchise business model, including how and why it works so well? 2. Have you done a thorough self-evaluation to make sure that you’re suited for a franchise business? 3. Have you thoroughly investigated the franchise opportunities that you’ve chosen to look into? 4. Did you get proper legal advice before you signed your franchise agreement? 5. Did you obtain the right type of small business loan for your business? Open for business You’ve had your grand opening. Local residents are starting to hear about your new business. More and more of them are checking your franchise out. Things are starting to feel good. Your cash register is ringing up sales. You want more of that. After a few months of being in business – one that’s starting to look like a winner-- you may start visualizing what it would be like to have another franchise location up and running. But, what needs to happen to make it happen? Timing How will you know when it’s the right time? Ask these questions: 1. Is your current location making a profit? 2. Can you use the state of your local commercial real estate market to your advantage? Is it depressed? Are there good deals to be made with landlords who have empty space? 3. Do you have enough employees? Can one or two of them help you open another franchise location? 4. Will your local banker be on-board with you? Will you be able to secure another small business loan with favorable terms?
60 MERG Fall 2015
Where should you open it? If you’re going to open a second franchise location, it’s important to choose your physical location carefully. Not only will you have to make sure that the location you choose is a prime one, you’ll have to make sure that it’s in your territory. The franchise agreement you signed has very specific language with regards to territory. For example, you may have to stay within a certain ZIP code or maybe even a certain county. That’s why it’s important for you to go over your franchise agreement before you talk to a real estate broker or a landlord. That way you won’t be setting yourself up for disappointment if you find out about a hot potential location for your second franchise unit that turns out to be out of your territory. In other words, don’t put the cart before the horse. Family support Is your family going to be on board you on this? Will they be comfortable with the idea of taking on more risk? Think about what went on with those close to you when you were choosing and investigating the franchise that you now own. Did you have to convince your family of your idea to become a franchise business owner? What about when the subject of money came up? How nervous were they? It’s important for you to put yourself in their shoes. Just because you’re excited about the idea of getting another franchise unit open doesn’t mean that they are. Start discussing your ideas with them early on…not right before you’re applying for another business loan, or a week before you’re about to sign a 10-year lease on a new commercial space. Having two successful franchise locations up and running can be great. They’ll enable you to get closer to your personal and professional goals. Just make sure that you have done the things necessary to set you up for success. Reprinted from an SBA.gov Community Guest Blog post by Joel Libava
Content by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
GI Bill + 4 Months = Great IT Career There are great IT and coding jobs available for veterans. But you need the right technology skills. Centriq can teach you these skills - in just 4 months!
23% Centriq Students are Veterans
Come to Kansas City for just 4 months:
• Technology Job Skills Training • Hands-On, Project Based Classes • Military to Civilian Résumé Training • Job Placement Assistance • Eligible for GI Bill Funding
Student to Instructor Ratio
Centriq’s accelerated TechSmart KC program is an IT and code school unlike any other! It’s ideal for veterans who learn by doing. Based in Kansas City, our program is designed to get you into a new career fast even if you have no IT experience.
Years Training IT Professionals
Accelerate your transition into a civilian career in IT! Centriq.com/veterans | 913.322.7007 Brant Ashmore Air Force AFSC: 3P0x1 - Security Forces New Job: Current Student
“I wanted to use my GI Bill benefits as wisely as I could, and that’s why I came to Centriq. It’s challenging and intense, and it’s absolutely worth it!” Alex Hedges Army MOS: 31E - Internment/Resettlement Specialist New Job: IT Consultant “Each instructor brings a unique set of skills and teaching style that prepared me for my new job as an IT consultant. The welcoming Centriq environment embraced my military experience.”
Steven Russell Kansas National Guard MOS: 13A - Field Artillery Fire Support Officer New Job: Security Analyst “The career services department at Centriq is the contributing factor to my success in finding a career I truly enjoy.”
Chris Swatzell Marine Corps MOS: 0621 - Field Radio Operator New Job: IT Support Technician “Everything that I am doing in my current role directly relates to the course material that I learned from Centriq.”
Fall 2015 MERG 61
FRANCHISE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK:
Growth slows after three years of steady gains, but franchises continue adding jobs
he Franchise Business Index (FBI), an index of the economic health of the franchising industry, rose 0.2 percent in September to 110.7, the International Franchise Association announced on Oct. 30. Growth of the index slowed as the component measuring employment in franchise-intensive industries showed no monthly gain for the first time in over three years and the small business optimism index declined. “Franchise businesses continue to create jobs and demonstrate that the franchise business model remains the best and most proven vehicle to quickly grow and scale a small business,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “While we are pleased the index grew for the fifth consecutive month, we remain concerned about the overall rate of growth in both new business formation and job creation. We believe comprehensive tax reform that eases the burden on small business owners by lowering the effective tax rate is essential to strong job and wage growth for all Americans.” The other four components of the FBI all made small positive contributions to the index. The unemployment rate
declined slightly and the incidence of self-employment rose. Retail sales in franchise-intensive sectors increased by 0.3 percent and the index of credit conditions ticked up. After incorporating revisions to last month’s data for individual components of the index, the August value of the FBI also showed slower growth – up 0.2 percent over the July value. Designed to provide timelier tracking of the growing role of franchise businesses in the U.S. economy, the Franchise Business Index was developed by IHS Global Insight on behalf of the IFA Educational Foundation. The FBI combines indicators of growth in the industries where franchising is most prevalent and measures of the general economic environment for franchising. “The franchise sector continues to exceed the modest pace of overall economic growth, as improvements in the housing market have had a positive impact on consumer spending,” said IHS Global Insight Senior Economist James Gillula, “and we do not expect higher mortgage rates to choke off the recovery.” Courtesy of the International Franchising Association.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Hezekiah Morgan measures the distance for a flood light.
PHOTO: Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey
62 MERG Fall 2015
Aviation Machinistâ€™s Mate Airman John-Ray Dacara performs pre-flight checks on an F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41 aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez
Fall 2015 MERG 63
FINANCING YOUR FRANCHISE:
An SBA Guide
re you looking to buy a franchise, or do you currently own one? If so, you’re part of a growing population. The popularity of franchises over the last several decades has contributed to the massive growth of related jobs and new businesses. To help facilitate their development, the Small Business Administration has created a franchise program to simplify their financing process. What does it mean to be an SBA-approved franchise? SBA-approved franchises are select business opportunities whose agreements have been accepted by the SBA. When it comes to securing an SBA-backed loan, those applying for an approvedfranchise have it easier and quicker. Applicants for SBA-approved franchises benefit from a streamlined review process that expedites their loan application. Because the particular franchise is pre-approved, the loan review is less complex and focuses on specific aspects of that brand’s business plan. Where can I find a list of SBA-approved franchises? Through a partnership with SBA, the Franchise Registry provides a list of approved franchises*. This list allows you to search by name if you have a specific franchise in mind or by program/ industry if you doing research in related franchise opportunities.
Should I be worried if my franchise is not on the SBAapproved list? Franchises do not appear on the list for a variety of reasons. In some instances, the franchisor may decide not to have it listed. If this is the case, SBA and your commercial lender may need to review and evaluate more financial information when you seek SBA financial assistance, which may add more time to process the request. Being on or off the list is not an endorsement or indication of quality and profitability, so you should still thoroughly research for your potential franchise opportunity. What else is needed by SBA and my bank if my franchise is on the SBA-approved franchise list? Additional eligibility qualifications are required for applicants of financing for an SBA-approved franchise. These qualifications include items such as general eligibility, conflicts of interest, business plans, and use of proceeds. When you apply for an SBAbacked loan, you will still need to submit paperwork according to their application process. An SBA Loan Application Checklist can help you prepare all the necessary documentation. Common 64 MERG Fall 2015
documentation includes: • • • • • • • • • • •
Purpose of the loan History of the business Financial statements for three years (existing businesses) Schedule of term debts (existing businesses) Aging of accounts receivable and payable (existing businesses) Projected opening-day balance sheet (new businesses) Lease details Amount of investment in the business by the owner(s) Projections of income, expenses and cash flow Signed personal financial statements Personal résumé(s)
How do I proceed? Whether or not your franchise is on the SBA-approved list, there are still steps should take to move your loan application process forward: • Review process for SBA loans -Understanding the SBA process will help minimize the about of time the process will take. Being on top of what you need to submit and when can expedite everything. • Pull together all necessary information and documents More information will be needed to process the request. SBA will require less financial information if the franchise is on the SBA-approved list. There is common information and documentation that you will need to provide to SBA and your potential lender whether or not your franchise is on the SBA-approved list. Being on the SBA-approved franchises list will make the SBA approval portion move faster, but SBA has no control over the actual lenders. • Find a lender- SBA provides a list of Preferred Lenders that are familiar with the SBA process. You are not required to use a preferred lender, but if you have the option it could be beneficial. Throughout the process make sure that you are in contact with your franchisor and keep him or her updated. Whether or not your franchise is on the SBA-approved list, it is important to research your financing options. An expedited process is available for those on the list, but this does not guarantee approval. Remember, items such as general eligibility, conflicts of interest, business plans, and use of proceeds affect your odds, regardless of whether your franchise is pre-approved. Reprinted from SBA.gov
Fall 2015 MERG 65
PHOTO: Spc. Ambraea Johnson
U.S. Army veteran Spc. Jason Blair, Waco, Texas, tries to pass around his defender during the bronze medal wheelchair basketball game during the 2015 Army Trials at Soto Physical Fitness Center, Fort Bliss, Texas.
66 MERG Fall 2015
During Mr. Brasure’s eight years with the Marine Corps he was deployed three times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. While deployed, he unfortunately had to participate in the birth of his first daughter via web cam. Having missed out on such a miracle, Joshua knew he wouldn’t miss another special moment like that in his family’s life, and needed to find a career that provided him with the flexibility to do just that. GameTruck was that opportunity!
Lower Initial Investment
We offer franchise fee discounts to United States veterans.
Our mobile business has a lower initial investment than traditional brick and mortar franchises.
Contact our franchising representatives today! call 888.845.4423 or visit gametruckfranchising.com
oshua Brasure is a Marine Corps Veteran, a stay-at-home dad and an accomplished business owner who has found success in joining GameTruck as a franchisee.
Fall 2015 MERG 67
Itâ€™s said that the only thing that remains constant in life is change. Change is no stranger to those in the military and especially now thereâ€™s a big change coming as you look towards your civilian life. How are you going to make a difference? Provide for your family? Some transitioning military personnel struggle to identify their transferrable skills and then apply them in the workplace.
68 MERG Fall 2015
Discipline, accountability, communication skills and leadership are often undervalued by the 9 to 5 employer. Unlimited opportunities in real estate sales are available to those who are coachable and well-disciplined. EXIT Realty specializes in getting the most and the best out of every person in the corporation. You already possess the basics of discipline and accountability and we have the finest real estate training in the industry â€“ together, that creates
unstoppable momentum. You’re coming in with the skills to create a fabulous future and we want you! At EXIT Realty, we believe that good agents are born but great ones are trained. Becoming a part of EXIT means joining our on-going commitment to create the most highly trained and skilled professionals in real estate. Our sales training is taught by some of the industry’s leading top producers, and is among some of the most comprehensive
then teaches each agent how to use them. The corporate culture is supportive and fun and this comradery extends to the brokerage level where associates help and encourage each other much like a good team would do. In addition, we provide a unique opportunity for our associates to help us build the company through a process known as sponsoring. Then we give them a piece of the action - income in addition to the commissions they earn - to help them build their business and their future.
“For military personnel planning their exit strategy from a very structured environment, EXIT Realty’s Agent Transition Plan and proven business model provide the tools, systems and opportunity to create a dynamic future.” coaching you’ll ever receive. Designed to remove inhibitions, EXIT’s training programs range from creating your reality, selfworth reinforcement, the art of negotiation, to prospecting, personality profiles and more. For military personnel planning their exit strategy from a very structured environment, EXIT Realty’s Agent Transition Plan and proven business model provide the tools, systems and opportunity to create a dynamic future. Each agent is thoroughly oriented and trained in the basics of successful real estate sales. Each agent is taught how to brand him or herself and then how to market their brand to the community. EXIT seeks out the latest technology tools available and
You’ve spent your tour of duty in service to your country and we know that continuing to be of service is important to you. At EXIT Realty, we believe that guiding families through the process of buying and selling the largest purchase of their lives - the home where their children sleep at night - makes for a very satisfying career. In fact, it’s potentially the biggest return on your invested time. EXIT Realty has also partnered with Homes for Heroes® through our Approved Supplier Network. Homes for Heroes® provides discounts for first responders, military personnel and veterans, teachers and health care workers during the home buying and selling process. You owe it to yourself and your family to find out more.
EXIT Realty believes in a bright future for our veterans and thanks you for your service. Visit exitrealty.com/EXIT4MinuteMillion
Fall 2015 MERG 69
PHOTO: Sgt. Richard DeWitt
Robert Kent, a member of Disabled American Veterans, salutes to the playing of TAPS during the National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
70 MERG Fall 2015
TRANSFORMING MILITARY SERVICE INTO CIVILIAN SUCCESS
Hire Heroes USA empowers U.S. military members, veterans and spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce through personalized career-coaching and employment preparation counseling. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Hire Heroes USA’s services are provided at no cost to the veteran.
844.634.1520 • www.hireheroesusa.org @HireHeroesUSA
ver the next four years, 1 million men and women are expected to transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Without effective employment assistance, many of these former military members could join the ranks of 500,000 veterans already unemployed (Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2015). Long term unemployment not only negatively impacts veterans and their families, but also the communities in which they live, and the national economy. In recent years, the Department of Defense has annually spent up to $1 billion on unemployment to separated veterans (Department of Labor, 2013). Hire Heroes USA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that empowers military members, veterans, and spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce, regardless of where they are across the country. Headquartered in Alpharetta, GA Hire Heroes USA provides personalized career coaching at no cost to clients to help them achieve employment. With branch offices in San Diego, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Plano, TX; Auburn, WA; Raleigh, NC;
and most recently Torrance, CA, Hire Heroes USA confirms more than 60 clients hired per week, a 45% conversion rate from those helped to hired. Hire Heroes USA is uniquely qualified to serve transitioning military members, unemployed veterans, and their spouses because of the team’s ability to understand clients’ military experience and relate it in civilian terminology, and because of Hire Heroes USA’s personalized training approach with a laser focus on results. By creating coaching relationships with clients, Hire Heroes USATransition Specialists build client confidence and knowledge through a continuum of service delivery. Hire Heroes USA’s high touch approach is extremely effective, cutting in half the average length of unemployment for Hire Heroes USA Alumni (13 weeks) compared to the national average of 26 weeks. Additionally, Hire Heroes USA Alumni report an annual turnover rate (21%) that is half the national average (40%). To register for services, donate, or volunteer, visit: www.hireheroesusa.org. Spronsored Content Fall 2015 MERG 71
U.S. service members participate in a run to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. For 24 straight hours, service members kept the POW/MIA flag in constant motion to focus on American prisoners of war and those missing.
72 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
Fall 2015 MERG 73
A firefighterâ€™s helmet rests on the ground at Aviano Air Base, Italy. A remembrance ceremony was held to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of approximately 3,000 innocent people at the World Trade Center, Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon.
74 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
Fall 2015 MERG 75
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Glenn Burnett, assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, performs preflight checks on a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft on the flight line at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
76 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
Fall 2015 MERG 77
U.S. Marine Corps Sqts. Christopher Flores, right and Robert Parente demonstrate takedowns at Sunny Slope High School during Marine Week 2015 in Phoenix.
78 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Cpl. Trever A. Statz
Fall 2015 MERG 79
A F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
80 MERG Fall 2015
PHOTO: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado
Fall 2015 MERG 81
Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan McDivitt, a cardiologist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, hugs his daughter after dis-embarking the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) following a six-month deployment in support of the humanitarian and civil assistance mission Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
PHOTO:â€…Jacob Sippel 82 MERG Fall 2015
Fall 2015 MERG 83
It’s Your Future Let Us HeLp YoU sUcceed The AMVETS Warrior Reintegration Platform features several programs to help veterans re-adjust back into civilian life: • AMVETS Career Centers (powered by Call of Duty Endowment)
• Warrior Transition Workshops • Healing Heroes • VA Claims & Benefits Assistance
84 MERG Fall 2015
DEFENSE STANDARD's Military Education and Resource Guide 2015 Fall Edition