Why Hire a Veteran?

So why hire a veteran?

Hire Heroes USA’s Noah Thomas thinks the question should be “Why wouldn’t you hire a veteran?”

Thomas was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in November helping put on a USO/Hire Heroes USA Transition Workshop when he stopped to talk with us about why potential employers should look to hire recent veterans.

“No matter if you’ve served two years, six months, 20 years, 30 years, a veteran has experienced a lot,” he said. “They’re resilient, they’re objective-oriented, they’re detail-oriented.

“They know how to work in diverse teams. And so what they can bring to the company is far beyond what you see on TV and movies with the [post-traumatic stress issues].

“[Veterans] bring everything from project planning, logistics, community engagement and they do it in a short timeframe and usually with not a lot of money.”

Blog_camo

Whether you’re a transitioning service member in need of a resume or a boost to your interview skills or an employer looking for some fresh talent, you can accomplish a lot at a USO/Hire Heroes USA workshop.

A Family Saved: USO/Stronger Families Seminar Leader Garrick Pang Shares One of his Favorite Moments

Garrick Pang, left, listens to Noel Meador speak during a Stronger Families presentation in 2012. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Garrick Pang, left, listens to Noel Meador speak during a USO/Stronger Families presentation in 2012. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Stronger Families’ Garrick Pang makes a difference.

As the nonprofit’s senior director of training and support, he travels the country conducting USO/Stronger Families Oxygen for Your Relationships seminars for troops and their significant others.

Here is one of his favorite stories about a family that was on the edge of breaking apart:

“It was a couple of years ago. I was down at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base and we were doing this particular class for wounded, ill and injured service men and women and their families.

And in the back of the room came in a young couple and we had a few extra spaces available and so they had opened it up to the broader Marine population. And this couple, I think, had been ‘voluntold’ to come. And you can just see kind of the tension between them when they walked in the room.

As we began and started sharing about the program and different elements of it, I could see that … this tension was starting to come to the surface more. In the program, I share a little bit about my own personal story and my own journey of what my wife and I had been through early on in our marriage.

At the end of the first day, they came up to me and … the wife said to me, ‘Your wife at year seven, that was me two weeks ago.’

And I turned to the young Marine and I said, ‘So what did you do in response to what she said?’ Because what happened to me was at year seven, my wife basically said, ‘I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.’ And this Marine said, ‘Well, I didn’t know what to say. So, I said, “Well, whatever.”‘

And what I had shared with the class that I had made a decision at that point that I needed to fight for my marriage. And so I turned to him and I said, ‘You are a Marine. And I believe that I don’t know you very well but I’m sure that when you set your mind to something, you make that your objective and you achieve it, am I correct?’ And with some pride, he said, ‘Yes, sir. That’s correct.’

And now, you’ve just heard your wife say to you, after less than two years of marriage, that while she said she was done, she really wants you to fight for your marriage.

I said, ‘Do you think you’re up for that task? Because I think you can do it if you set that as your objective.’ And again, with some pride he kind of sat up in his chair and he says, ‘Yes, sir. I think I can do that.’

Out the corner of my eye, I could see a smile kind of coming over her face. Well, they came back for day two and I could tell that there was already something that was different. And they finished, completed the training and at the end of the day, I sat down with them and I said, ‘So, tell me what happened here.’ And he said, ‘You reminded me of what’s important. And you helped us to go back to the beginning and really recognize that what we felt like was gone was really still there.’

Blog_camo

I followed up with them over the next four weeks.

I called them each week and again, less than two years married [with] a 5-month-old baby, they’d been deployed once, so they’ve been apart actually more than they been together. And he was ready to ship out in another month for another deployment.

So, I followed up with them and after that last call that I had with him, he said, ‘I want say thank you to you. Thank you to USO and to Stronger Families because I’m headed away for a deployment and I’m going to come back to my family. A month ago, I couldn’t have said that.’

And so to me, that’s really probably one of my favorite stories of a life – of a relationship – that’s been changed through the program.”

Epic Fundraiser: Jay Leno’s Muscle Car Raised $565,625 for the USO

Auction houses selling rare and expensive collector cars are usually teeming with excitement, but at Gooding & Company’s 2015 Scottsdale Auctions in Arizona this weekend, there was an extra layer of celebrity buzz when comedian Jay Leno rolled out his prized 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8—with all proceeds benefiting the USO.

Rare and exotic Ferraris sold for multiple millions, but the highlight of the auction was Leno’s Challenger. The crowd roared as bidders competed for the patriotic prize in the one of the most exciting bidding displays Gooding & Company has ever seen.

The bidding started at $50,000 and when the auctioneer finally dropped the hammer at $360,000—nearly 10 times the car’s blue-book value—USO President and CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II, present at the event, was filled with pride. The entire auction house stood for applause. However, the giving wasn’t done. Nobody was prepared for what happened next.

“After the car sold, one of the men who lost the bid for Leno’s car stood up and offered an on-the-spot cash donation for the USO—he would match anyone’s donation up to $100,000,” said Crouch.

Paddles began flying and within moments, another man committed to donate the full $100,000. Additional donations kept rolling in to the tune of $5,625, which meant that thanks to Jay Leno and other generous supporters, the USO would receive a total of $565,625!

This isn’t the first time Leno has flexed his charity muscle for the troops. In previous years, he has dedicated his annual Love Ride to the USO, and just two months ago, after returning from entertaining troops on a USO tour in Afghanistan, he joined the TODAY show to “Shine A Light” on troops back home by gifting another of his Dodge Challengers directly to a wounded soldier.

“We’re overwhelmed by the response that we got from those who attended the auction,” said Crouch. “The funds raised here will go far to advance our goals of expanding our services to men and women in uniform.”

Auburn vs. Alabama Off the Field: Schools’ Theta Chi Chapters Compete to Support the USO

AU_Alabama_Competition

Roll Tide? War Eagle? Now is your chance to support your favorite school and help the USO at the same time.

The famous SEC football foes have extended their rivalry to the nonprofit world. According to al.com, the Theta Chi chapters at both Auburn and the University of Alabama have created a competition to benefit the USO.

Participation is easy, and any fan around the world can do it. You can text either “USO Tide” if you support Alabama or “USO Tigers” if you support Auburn to 80888. The texts will add a $5 donation to your phone bill that will benefit the USO. (Standard text and data rates may also apply.)

Alabama senior John Anderson, a former Theta Chi chapter president, told al.com that the two chapters set a goal to raise $10,000 for the USO.

“We figured since college students are always on their phones, this would be an easy way for them to donate to a great organization,” Anderson told al.com. “However, we have also found that parents and other adults are just as willing to donate via a text message.”

J&J Speaker Shows Caregivers Road to Peak Performance at USO Conference

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina—Chris Jordan sees extremes all the time.

His job is to help people — businessmen, athletes, etc. — who put their bodies and personal relationships through great stress while trying to achieve big goals. As the Director of Exercise Physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, Jordan helps people with who often have little free time find ways to maximize their fitness routines, eating habits and stress levels in order to live healthier lives.

In November, he brought his skills to the USO Caregivers Conference to help caregivers of wounded, ill and injured troops come up with a plan on how to live more balanced lives.

Blog_camo

Jordan taught a breakout session titled “Connect with the Positive Physical Approach,” and also led a general session on how caregivers can incorporate healthier habits into daily routines.

“They do a very good job of taking care of everyone around them … but don’t do a very good job of taking care of themselves,” Jordan said. “But we know through our training that if you can train yourself to have more energy and increase your capacity to deliver, you can do more for those things and people who matter most to you.”

USO Guam Honored for Service to National Guard Troops

Troops and family members celebrate at a USO Guam homecoming celebration in April. USO photo

Troops and family members mingle at a USO Guam homecoming celebration in April. USO photo

They were there when they left. And there when they came home, too.

USO Guam got a big hat tip from the Guam National Guard this week, when it was presented the service’s Center of Influence Award for its work with troops and families during Operation Enduring Freedom. The award specifically covered USO Guam’s actions over the last two years of deployments, recognizing the center’s constant support of both Guam National Guard troops and their families through deployment and homecoming ceremonies, USO center services and additional family support.

The award was presented Sunday during an official retreat ceremony at Guam National Guard Headquarters in Barrigada, Guam.

This isn’t the first time the military has recognized USO Guam’s support. Read here about how USO Guam turned into a temporary hotel for 41 stranded Marines over the summer.