The PCSing Spouse

Where Spouses Help Spouses

Month: June 2018

Remodeling at a New Duty Station

Truth is I wrote and re-wrote this blog post a few times. I wanted to paint this picture of an amazing DIY home remodel that worked flawlessly. Honestly that is not what is happening in our home currently. We are working with a military budget, and on a military time frame. So instead I will tell you a little bit about my projects, give you my current tips and when we finally finish maybe I will share a fabulous update.

We moved to our most recent duty station with no intention of buying a fixer upper. We really had considered living on base again. However a VERY long wait list changed our minds. As we drove around and got familiar with our new town we found one location that just stood out to us as “the area we want to live”.

So we did it, we bought a house right in our desired neighborhood. It looked nice from the outside, ok from in the inside, but we saw a lot of potential in our new home. 30 long days later it was time to move in.

Once the previous owners things were out we could see how damaged the house truly was we knew it was going to take a lot of sweat equity to make this house a home.

The whole house needed new carpet, every single room. The whole house needs new paint, every single room. The back sliding door no longer locked or shut completely. The garage door has been rammed a few times and is all bent up. The fridge stopped working the first week we were there. The whole house needed new blinds, every single room. Door frames were broken. The living room had this weird built in entertainment center over the fireplace that was designed for one of those old tube televisions. The legit hardwood floors in the kitchen have water damage and need sanded. Honestly the list could go on. Now some of these things we were prepared for, others came as huge surprise after closing.

While our house is slowly becoming a home, it is going to take us awhile to finish. This has been the most challenging, frustrating, expensive, learning experience.

So my tips for any of you headed out to your next station and considering a fixer upper.

  1. Don’t. It is not as easy as it looks on Fixer Upper or any other HGTV show.
  2. If you do, make a plan. List all the things you want to do and place them in order of priority.
  3. Create a backup plan. Find a handyman or a contractor willing to do the jobs you can’t.
  4. Be prepared that the job can and will be put on hold for TDY, or other Military related reasons. (2 week TDY right in the middle of laying hardwood floors happening right here)
  5. Youtube.com will become your new best friend. Don’t know how to spray texture on walls? There is a youtube video that will give you step by step instructions. How do we know what we are doing? We don’t but we are not afraid to learn from someone who does.
  6. Try to enjoy it by being hands on. There is nothing more satisfying than realizing you are capable of more things than you ever thought you’d be able to do. I measured, cut, and hung 90% of the sheetrock in my new family room. It is so rewarding to be able to say I DID THAT!!!
  7. Be prepared to learn about yourself, your spouse and your marriage. Remodels/DIY projects/Home Repairs are not easy. They are stressful, time consuming and can be financially straining. Communication is key, talk it out. You will learn what each of you and your pocketbook can handle and don’t be afraid to take a step back and re-access.

Whatever you decide to do whether it be renting, base housing, or buying I just want to say Welcome Home!  

***Welcome to our newest blog teammate Alysha Lutz!!!

Careers and the MilSpouse: Part 3 Rethinking Resources

Visit Your Local Workforce Development Agency/Employment Commission

 

Welcome back everyone! Now that we have your initial resume created, I promise you will revise it at least three to four times a month while actively seeking employment, let’s talk about local resources that will help you with finding work and/or training. As I stated in the first post, I used to be a Career Developer with a local One-Stop Office in Norfolk, Virginia. If you are not familiar with One-Stops or the local Employment Commission, you are missing a little hidden gem. These agencies are State offices that receive Federal dollars to assist residents in job skills training and employment readiness. At the office where I was located, we conducted employment readiness workshops, had a computer lab that people could use to use to apply for jobs and work on resumes, as well as complete school work. Additionally, we had representatives from other social service agencies housed in our building for continuity and ease of service.  Most of the centers, also called American Job Centers (AJC), also offer job skills training in labor market sectors that are in high demand. All of these services are of course free of charge; however there will be some eligibility criteria for some of the more intensive, one-on-one services. I’d like to touch on a couple of the services that are most beneficial to MilSpouses and Veterans.

While these are not an exhaustive list of services, and they will vary from location to location, the basics should be the same.  The areas I believe are most helpful are: Workshops, Jobs Skills Training, and Employment Services. These three areas are really the bulk of the services that the AJC provides, but some resources not mentioned are hiring events, and the business services. Before moving into each area, I wanted to share with you about a term you may hear and one you should address when visiting these centers. That term is Dislocated Worker, and you will qualify as a dislocated worker if you have moved to a new duty station and not obtained full time employment. A DW is a spouse of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty who has experienced a loss of employment as a direct result of relocation to accommodate a permanent change in duty station of such member. You also qualify as a DW if you were required to go to work due to a deployment.

Workshops: Each center will have a monthly calendar that illustrates the workshops they offer related to job readiness. These could range from resume writing, interview techniques, to on-line applications, and the use of social media in job seeking. All of these workshops are free and usually require you to register with the AJC and sign up in advance. I cannot stress the importance of having a good working resume before beginning your employment search. The facilitators of these workshops are usually all certified workforce specialist who have gone to trainings for these topics. You are able to attend as many workshops as you believe necessary and always feel comfortable to ask questions.

Job Skills Training: This service maybe called an intensive or enhanced service depending on the location, and will require some eligibility requirements. Eligibility is based on household size and income, however in the case of the military spouse, your service member’s base pay is all that is calculated and again, if you are deemed a DW, this information is not counted. If you qualify for job skills training, you will be allowed to receive funding for up to two years in an employment field that is deemed in high demand. The range in training providers and programs offered will vary from location to location and also depends on the labor market demand for each field. By this I mean you are more likely to receive training in a healthcare field than in an arts field like graphic design. Depending on the cap set at the start of each fiscal year, you could enroll and complete the program at almost zero cost, and obtain a certification or even Associates Degree.

Employment Services: Like the job skills training, some of these services will be deemed intensive or enhanced services, it just really depends on the AJC you are working with. This is the service that allows you to work one-on-one with a career coach or employment specialist. Not that I am partial, but I cannot even begin to tell you the wealth of knowledge, resources and support having a career coach offers. When you are assigned a career coach, they will take time to look at your resume and review your work history to determine if you will need any jobs skills training. If so, they will work with you on enrolling for a training program that will assist you in gaining skills that will make you more marketable. In addition to enrolling in job services, your career coach can also work with you on reviewing your resume and cover letter, mock interviews, and of course celebrating the success of being hired. An area that your career coach may be able to also assist is with the partnership of the business services department of the AJC. The business service section works directly with employers and businesses within the community who are looking to fill vacancies or have hiring events. This department usually sends these requests to the career coaches, where they can look for qualified applicants to send directly to the employer.

I was not aware of the vast services that these One-Stop Centers provided until I began working at one, and now that I have learned the many programs and services that are available to MilSpouses, I would be foolish not to share them with you. Here is the link to find your local office, as well as the site for the career one stop.

https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/local-help.aspx

https://www.careeronestop.org/

 

Until next time,

Empowered Women, Empower Women

 

Keadra is a USN wife by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is currently stationed in Northeast Ohio with her husband who is a recruiter. Her background is in Law Enforcement; however, degrees in Sociology and Public Administration brought her to the world of Workforce Development. Keadra’s hobbies include fostering her budding business Kubed, LLC a training and consulting agency, and raising their daughter.

Careers and the MilSpouse: The Good, the Bad, and the Reality Part 2

Part 2 :  Develop a Working Resume

Welcome back! At this point, I hope you have had the opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate with family and friends about your previous work experience you have accumulated over the years and are ready to “put pen to paper” as my Mother would say.  Last week I attended a virtual symposium for Military Spouses that focused on career readiness, education and entrepreneurship, it was AMAZING!!! I was able to gather some great resources and tools that I plan to share with y’all. The symposium was put on by Military One Source and SECO; if you have never been to either of those websites, definitely check them out!

Ok, let’s get into writing your resume. I am sure you have been told your resume is your first “look” from an employer. The purpose of your resume is to draw enough interest from a potential employer to secure you an interview. That being said, there are a couple of key categories that you want your resume to have in order to tell a flowing story that will offer a better chance at you securing an interview. Before getting into the categories, I want to just touch on a few topics that are pretty basic, but may not be that common in knowledge. The first is Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which are being used more and more in the weeding out of resumes. It is very infrequent that your resume is being viewed first by the hiring manager, and not a computer program that looks for certain key words that match the position description. Additionally, some of these systems do not pick up on certain fonts, therefore it is best to use the sans serif fonts, and Calibri and Ariel. Once your resume has passed the ATS, you have more of a chance of having your resume being reviewed by the hiring manager or team. Finally, while it may be the dirty side of employment hiring, discrimination is real. Avoid any factors that can lead to discrimination; age, zip code, and employment that may date you and be irrelevant.

Now that we have covered those, let’s get into the categories which are; contact information, personal brand, knowledge highlights, applicable skills, work history and education.

Contact Information: This is pretty self-explanatory; you want to have a way for the employer to contact you. Include your name, phone number and email address. Ensure that your voicemail is clear and professional, as well as professional email, usually your first and last name work well. Additionally, include your city and state, but not the physical address of your home for security reasons. You will also want to include your LinkedIn handle if you have an account. LinkedIn is being used more and more by employers, so if you do not have an account, be sure to create one. The SECO website has some great tools on creating one!

 

Personal Brand: A branding statement is the foundation for marketing your unique set of skills. You may be familiar with an objective statement in a resume. The objective statement tells the employer “this is what I want” versus the branding statement which says, “Here is the value I offer.” Think of your branding statement as your 30 second elevator pitch to the employer. You can use your branding statement to summarize your resume in your cover letter, on various social media outlets (think LinkedIn), as well as answering the “Tell me about yourself question” in the interview. Your branding statement should include the following four elements

  1. Your Specialty       –        Who you are
  2. Your Service           –       What you do
  3. Your Audience       –        Who you do it for
  4. Your Best Characteristic –   What you’re known for

An example of a branding statement is: Highly competent Administrative professional with experience supporting senior level executives in the insurance and financial industries. Known for ability to be flexible and to respond to problems and issues quickly and adeptly. Professional manner at all times and relied upon for confidentiality and handling sensitive materials. Strengths include dependability, strong interpersonal skills and attentiveness to details.

I will attach some worksheets to this post to assist with writing your branding statement.

Knowledge Highlights: These are the major career accomplishments that you have gained in previous work areas.  Think of awards and accolades that you have received in the past and list them here in bullet format. You also can think of recommendations or statements from previous performance evaluations to include in this area. If you have any security clearances, organizational affiliations or specific certifications that are related to the position or employer, this is a good place to list them.

 

Applicable Skills: This area is often called ‘Area of Expertise’ or ‘Core Competencies’. These are going to be your hard and soft transferrable skills. You want to ensure that you are looking at the position description and using the same wording from the description to write your skills. A great tool that we used at my job was Tag Crowd (https://tagcrowd.com/). You can highlight, copy and paste the position description into the field on the website and the word cloud will populate the most important and used words in the description. You should aim for 6 to 9 skills, again, listed in bullet format, ensuring that the skills listed are reflective of the position.

 

Work History: Depending on if you are using a combination format or a chronological format, you will list your employment history, starting with the most recent and going back 10 years. You will want to include the employers name and location, your title and dates in which you were employed. You will want to include 3-4 bullets of position duties under the listed information. Try not to simply state what the job duties were, but what YOU brought to the position and something successful you completed while in that role. If you have limited work experience you may want to list major skills that you acquired while working and the successes and growth of those skills prior to listing your work history. I will include a template of both the chronological and combination format of resumes.

Education: Your education can go in two different sections based on, relevance to the position and the length of time since earning your degree/certification. You will want to list the following information for any degrees earned:

   Degree, Major (if relevant)       20XX

University                                       City, State

If you are still enrolled in the program you list it as such:

College/Training program attending, anticipate certificate/license and completion date.

Finally, if you have you do not hold any degrees, list any relevant on-the-job training or relevant experience in this section as well.

 

I know that this can seem like a lot of information, but if you did the brainstorming, all of this will essentially write itself. It may be easier to write your branding statement after you have written your resume, so your skills are fresh in your mind. I will include some documents that should offer assistance in writing and formatting your resume as well as a practice template for your branding statement. Next time we will discuss visiting your local American Career Center and the free services they can provide.

Until next time,

Empowered Women, empower Women

Attachments:

Branding

chronological template

Combo template

Keadra is a USN wife by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is currently stationed in Northeast Ohio with her husband who is a recruiter. Her background is in Law Enforcement; however, degrees in Sociology and Public Administration brought her to the world of Workforce Development. Keadra’s hobbies include fostering her budding business Kubed, LLC a training and consulting agency, and raising their daughter.

 

Military Medical Retirement: 3 Tips for how to help your spouse

 

If you have a spouse in the armed forces, you know that this job can take a toll on their body.  You hear it when they make that groaning sound every morning when they roll over and out of bed, and see it when they wash down handfuls of ibuprofen with an energy drink.

Every workday they will spend at least an hour doing PRT, or Physical Readiness Training. Top minds at the Department of the Army spent years designing this optimal physical strengthening regime that consists mostly of jumping up and down in a parking lot for an hour. Not exactly the kind of exercise that is gentle on the joints of the body.

Add ruck marches, field exercises, deployments, air jumps, and running- miles and miles of running- and suddenly your spouse calls to tell you that this time, it’s not just going to be three days of quarters, or a temporary profile.  This time, the doctors are recommending a Medical Evaluation Board, or MEB.  Now what? Well, don’t despair; with a little bit of organization and motivation, you can go with your spouse into the Medical Retirement process with confidence.

 

Tip # 1: Help a hubby out!

 

Once your spouse has been selected for the MEB, things will start to move very quickly. He will enter the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, or IDES.   He can expect his first phone call within the first week after being given a P3 profile. He will be assigned a PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer) who will be his main point of contact throughout the entire process.  The VA will also assign him a MSC (Military Service Coordinator). These two people will be your lifeline if you have any questions along the way.  If possible, you should attend these meetings with your spouse so you can be well informed as to what to expect over the coming months.

First, help by making the initial few meetings amicable.  PEBLOs and MSCs will see many, many clients during the day, and can get in a rut. You don’t want them to see you, and your spouse as just another face in the revolving door of clients they are supposed to support.  If you take the time to ask them a few questions about themselves at the top of the meeting, and show you are interested in them as a person, you can begin to build a rapport, and set yourself apart as someone that they are invested in helping.

Second, take notes.  A lot of information will get thrown at your spouse in a short amount of time.  If you are writing down what is being said, your spouse is free to engage with the person who can really help get this process off to a good start.

Third, ask questions; this one can be tricky because service members (and your PEBLO and MSC will undoubtedly be retired NCO’s) have a culture that frowns on civilians butting in, but it can also be beneficial if you seem knowledgeable and engaged in the process.  The best thing is to go over everything ahead of time with your spouse, so you go in knowing what they know, and you don’t end up repeating questions that have already been answered.

You are his battle buddy in this fight.  Help him keep track of appointments, sort medical paperwork, and most importantly, be there to listen. This will help him feel confident and prepared, knowing that he has thought of everything, and has a solid game plan.

 

Tip # 2: Encourage him to stop being “ARMY STRONG”

 

If he is hurting, he needs to say that he is hurting. This is the opposite of what he has done his entire career, and it will take him some time to come around to.  Remember that his identity has been built around a mentality of “drink water, drive on” and changing that will be hard.  But he needs to be honest about his pain. He needs to make appointments if something hurts or even just feels wrong. The way the military sees it, if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.

He has probably gotten used to a level of daily pain civilians would not dream of tolerating.  The big shift in thinking he needs to make is, soon he will be a civilian too. If there is something wrong with him that makes it so that he cannot function at the level that is comfortable for him, that is a disability.  It is disabling him from living a normal life, no matter how big or small.

 

Tip # 3: Learn to say “No”

 

The military is a mission-based organization.  That means that there is always something that your service member could be doing to further the mission.  It might be moving vehicles at the motorpool, qualifying at the range, guard duty, staff duty. Whatever it is, it is less important than your spouse’s new mission; to get out of the military with fair and adequate compensation for his injuries. His unit will try to use him as long as they can; however they can. They will tell him he is indispensable at his job.  They might even believe it.  The truth is, commanders, first sergeants and first line leaders say this about everyone, but as soon as they’re gone, they will just fill the spot with the next guy.

No one is going to check his last NCOER when he goes to look for employment in the civilian world. Your spouse is separating from the military. He needs to make it a priority to make his medical appointments, the appointments with his PEBLO, and his VA coordinator appointments. Focusing on ones self is hard for service members that are used to sacrifice, but there are no second chances when it comes to Medically Retiring from the military.

The military was in every part of his life, every day, for the last many years.  Now focus must shift, to ensure that you are prepared to go into the future with a solid plan, and some security for your family.  As a military spouse it is important to not minimize your role in this process, because there is so much that you can do to help. You just have to be willing to do what needs to be done.  And as mil-spouses, that is what we do best.

 

****Welcome to our newest blog teammate Kari Elkins!!!!!

Author: Kari Elkins

www.itdoesntfallfar.com

elkins.kn@zoho.com

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