On March 12, Legionnaire Hector Caballero put his company – Junk Vets – and The American Legion in the public eye. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, hosts of the hit reality television show “American Pickers” on the History Channel, visited Caballero and the Junk Vets warehouse during episode 13 of the show, titled “Slam Dunk Junk.”
Caballero started the veteran-owned Junk Vets in Chicago as a way to provide a cost-efficient and convenient alternative to dumpster rentals. The junk removal company either donates, recycles or disposes of what it collects after cleaning out people’s homes. Caballero said that while a lot of what they find is junk, there’s always a percentage of items that are good “so I try to find a home for it.” Until those items find a home, they are stored in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse that Wolfe and Fritz sifted through and found some treasures to buy – a Janis Joplin poster, gas can, old tin signs, a seat from the old Comiskey Park baseball stadium, and more. Their purchases totaled over $1,000, which Caballero donated to his American Legion Edward Schultz Post 697 in Lansing, Ill. Photos of Post 697 and its members are featured in the episode.
The idea of donating back to The American Legion was easy for Caballero. “I thought of what am I most involved in and what means something to me,” he said. “(Post 697) is my spot; I go there all the time. It’s a very tight-knit group here in Lansing. When I got out of the Marines in 1998, I remember how welcoming they were. I went down to the post one day and they were like, ‘Hey, come to a meeting.’ They asked me to be a member; they were very welcoming. I’ll never forget that.”
Junk Vets prides itself on giving back to the community and offers discounts to veterans, active-duty military personnel and seniors. For example, a local woman’s house burnt down and Junk Vets was able to refurbish her new residence from items they had in the warehouse. “We get so much stuff it’s unbelievable,” Caballero said. “It’s a pretty neat business.”
A few of his favorite discoveries have been World War II memorabilia, such as rifles; family photos from the 1900s,;and one-of-a-kind memorabilia of Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade.
Following the airing of Junk Vets on “American Pickers,” Caballero said his phone was ringing nonstop and his email inbox was filling up. People wanted to buy items that the show aired, especially the Dwyane Wade ones; however, those will all go back to Wade. Caballero was contacted by Wade’s management team as the basketball star thought the memorabilia – which dates back to his college years – was long gone.
Junk Vets is only a four-person team, with two veterans on staff as Caballero focuses on hiring veterans first. He is thankful for the publicity that “American Pickers” has given to his company and to The American Legion.
“I’ve lived in Lansing for 40 years. I believe in this town, and I just love The American Legion, I love this town,” he said. “And I just wanted to throw some greatness and publicity at (the Legion). It worked out great. (Junk Vets) is on the show and Post 697 is on the show. And they appreciate it.”
As warmer weather moves in – at least in parts of the country – motorcycle riding season picks up, which means The American Legion Riders will be on roads and highways across the nation doing the work of the Legion.
Keep up to date on what local Legion Riders chapters are doing, as well as on national events such as Rolling Thunder and The American Legion Legacy Run, by subscribing to The American Legion Riders Newsletter. The monthly email is sent directly to your inbox and provides info on the Legacy Run, a listing of ALR events across the nation, a Riders Safety Corner and links to both start your own chapter and share what your chapter is doing.
To subscribe, click here.
Six seconds — that’s how much time a recruiter will typically spend on a resume review before deciding whether to put it in the “yes” or “no” stack.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single document that basically determines if you’re going to move forward in the job search process. So, to put it simply, you want your resume to be as perfect as humanly possible.
Use the resume checklist below to help you get a civilian recruiter’s attention. You’ll know your resume is up to par if you can answer yes to the following questions.
Does the resume look original and not based on a template?
Is the resume inviting to read, with clear sections and ample white space?
Does the design look professional rather than like a simple typing job?
Is a career summary included so the reader immediately knows your value proposition?
Is the resume's length and overall appearance appropriate given your career level and summary?
Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
Is the font appropriate for the career level and industry?
Are there design elements (bullets, bolding, and lines) to guide readers' eyes through the document and highlight important content?
Is there a good balance between text and white space?
Are margins even on all sides?
Are design elements like spacing and font size used consistently throughout the document?
If the resume is longer than a page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
Are all resume sections clearly labeled?
Are sections placed in the best order to highlight your strongest credentials?
Is your work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
Is the resume targeted to a specific career goal, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all document?
If this is a resume for a career change, does it include supporting details that show how your past experience is relevant to the new job?
Does the resume include a solid listing of your career accomplishments?
Are you translating your military skills and accomplishments for a civilian audience?
Are accomplishments quantified by using numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, or other concrete measures of success?
Do accomplishment statements begin with strong, varied action verbs?
Are your accomplishments separated from your responsibilities?
Is the information relevant to hiring managers' needs?
Does your resume's content support your career summary?
Did you include keywords, appropriate buzzwords, and industry acronyms?
Is applicable, additional information (awards and affiliations) included, and is personal information unrelated to the job (marital status, age, nationality) omitted?
Did you avoid writing the resume in an implied first-person voice with personal pronouns (I, me, and my)?
Is the content flow logical and easy to understand?
Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar, or syntax errors?
Content provided courtesy of USAA.
By Chad Storlie
Even experienced career changers can quake at the thought of putting a new cover letter together. Resumes tend to be straightforward documents, but the cover letter can be a difficult document to complete or even start writing. Cover letters must be concise, specific to the job position, and illustrate attractive qualities about you.
Follow these tips to create an outstanding cover letter for your career search:
Understand Your Audience. Executives and HR hiring managers are busy and often times simply glance at resumes and cover letters from candidates. This is valuable information to understand because it shapes your writing style as direct, employs quantitative achievements, follows an organized layout, and lists the greatest achievements first. In addition, executives have become “Smartphone” readers where they expect the most essential information first and often quickly scan a document.
Address the Cover Letter to a Specific Person. A cover letter should be addressed to a specific person(s) in the department that you are applying and not to the Human Resources (HR) department. The research required to address the cover letter to the person and department that has the opening is a sure sign you have done your research and you understand the structure of a company. This simple attention to detail is a wonderful way to start a great cover letter.
Follow the Color Scheme of Your Resume with a Professional Picture. Modern resume layouts often employ a vertical color bar about 2” wide that contains your picture, education, publications, conference presentations, and other layouts. Use the same layout concept from your resume so that the resume and the cover letter together create a branded package in appearance and content of who you are and what you have to offer. It’s is OK to use the vertical color bar on your cover letter to repeat some of the critical information from your resume such as education, industry experience, publications, and the like.
Use a Layout that is Quickly Readable & Emphasizes Critical Skills. The greatest and most difficult rule is that cover letters should be only one page. This is very hard. However, a one-page cover letter respects the time of the audience reading your document. In addition, consider the use of tables and other creative methods to organize information that delivers great content in an easily understood manner and that can be quickly scanned and read. In addition, a layout of this format is unique so it guarantees that others will read it.
Include Some Personal Information to Make You Stand Out. Sharing volunteer information, a passion project, recognition from senior business or government individuals, or other unique information is necessary. The entire point of a cover letter is to make your contributions and experience stand out from the “pack” or other applicants. The more ways you discover to do this the better.
Include a Link to the Cover Letter & Resume for On-Line Sharing. In your cover letter, create links to your resume and your cover letter that allow easy sharing of both documents. Understand that hiring efforts are consensus driven decisions even for very junior positions within a company. Make it easy for others to find and share your cover letter and resume with others in their team. If you have a portfolio, a link to your portfolio can also be included to help pull the decision in your favor.
The cover letter is a one-page document that highlights your skills, interests, and abilities to make a significant difference to a company. Use the cover letter to generate interest and confidence in your ability to make an immediate difference in a new career.
The deadline to enter The American Legion Family's Veteranpreneur Contest, part of the Legion's 2018 National Poppy Day activities, is April 25.
To honor the fallen and support the living, The American Legion Family announced the Veteranpreneur Contest in February. Veterans, servicemembers and their spouses who own a business are invited to submit poppy-themed merchandise for consideration in the contest. The winning veteranpreneur will receive up to a $10,000 order for their product which will be sold in the online poppy shop through American Legion Emblem Sales.
The American Legion Family has launched www.poppydayusa.org which features information about National Poppy Day and the Veteranpreneur Contest. Entries to the Veteranpreneur Contest are due by close of business on April 25, when a judging panel will narrow the field to four finalists. After the finalists have been selected, the general public will vote for their favorite poppy-themed product and the winner will be announced on May 25 – National Poppy Day.
“Distributing poppies around Memorial Day has been a tradition of the American Legion Family for close to 100 years,” said American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan. “We have also long supported the efforts of veterans, servicemembers and their spouses who start their own business. The Veteranpreneur Contest is a natural extension of these efforts and will help us remind Americans about the historical significance and symbolism of the red poppy.”
Following World War I, the red poppy came to symbolize the blood shed by those who fought and those who continue to fight for our country. National Poppy Day is an initiative supported by the entire American Legion Family.
The contest is open until April 25, 2018. More information about eligibility, entry criteria and terms can be found at www.poppydayusa.org.
Rawlings, a leading baseball company out of St. Louis, has become a licensee for American Legion Baseball ahead of the 2018 season.
Baseballs are now available through American Legion Emblem Sales and feature the American Legion Baseball emblem.
Rawlings baseballs are priced at $65.95 per dozen or $649.50 for a case.
This makes five licensees for the 2018 season as Rawlings joins Diamond, Wilson, Baden and AD Starr (which Dick's Sporting Goods recently purchased but the name will remain).
With teams gearing up for the 2018 season, American Legion Baseball registration has already exceeded 2,000 teams.
Teams can register at baseball.legion.org.
With just under a month until the May 15 early registration deadline and six weeks from the 2018 final deadline on June 1, registration is trending upward for the storied program.
Numerous departments across the country are reporting growth heading into the 2018 campaign.
For more information on how to participate, visit www.legion.org/baseball/participate.
The leader of the nation’s largest veteran’s organization, American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan, issued the following statement regarding the passing of former first lady Barbara Bush:
“The American Legion joins the world in mourning the passing of a great first lady. Barbara Bush, the wife of a World War II veteran and the mother of another president, was a true American patriot. Whether it was raising her highly successful family, serving as first lady or fighting to eliminate illiteracy, Barbara Bush epitomized grace and class. She made her mark in history and will be missed. Our condolences are extended to the Bush family and her legion of friends.”
The American Legion's National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Director Louis Celli testified at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing on April 17. Celli gave The American Legion’s positions on the following pending and draft House Resolution (H.R.) bills.
H.R. 1506: VA Health Care Provider Education Debt Relief Act of 2017
The American Legion is deeply troubled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leadership, physicians and medical specialist staffing shortages within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), according to Celli’s written testimony. Currently, there are more than 43,000 vacancies throughout the VA in primary care, mental health care and dental care providers.
H.R. 1506 will provide an incentive to attract qualified providers to fill the above noted vacancies by increasing total educational loan repayment amounts from $120,000 to $150,000 and annual debt repayment amounts from $24,000 to $30,000.
During testimony before the joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees this February, National Commander Denise H. Rohan called for raising the ceiling of the VA Debt Relief Reduction program to increase VA probability of attracting high-quality talent in its recruitment efforts.
“All of this negative exposure and lower pay standards is crippling the agency charged with taking of our nation’s warriors – we need to fix that,” Celli said. “H.R. 1506 can help fix that by making VA a more attractive employment option for our health care community by offering to pay off some of their student debt. Will this solve the problem? Not entirely, but what it will do is prove that we are willing to invest in high quality professionals that care for our wounded and ill veterans.”
According to Celli, a common theme the Legion’s System Worth Saving team hears from VHA medical center human resource staff and physicians is VA’s debt reduction program is not adequately funded and the amount VA can offer to a VA provider is not in keeping with what local community hospitals can pay.
Through its Resolution No. 377, Support for Veteran Quality of Life, The American Legion supports any legislation and programs within the VA that will "enhance, promote, restore or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents, including, but not limited to, the following: timely access to quality VA health care, timely decisions on claims and receipt of earned benefits, and final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorates their service."
The VA Health Care Provider Education Debt Relief Act will grant this nation’s veterans better access to care by increasing the number of doctors available to be seen and will improve the overall quality of care that the VA is able to provide.
The American Legion supports H.R. 1506.
H.R. 2322: Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights
H.R. 2322 calls for a veteran to have the right to select a practitioner that best meets their orthotic and prosthetic needs, whether or not that practitioner is an employee of the VA, a private practitioner who has entered into a contact with the VA, or even a private practitioner with specialized expertise.
“At this time, we are unable to support H.R. 2322, the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, because it appears to be missing some language,” Celli said. “The American Legion is committed to ensuring all veterans, especially those with catastrophic injuries, receive expert care. We just have to be careful that we don’t create a mechanism whereby the VA has no control over how care is delivered or how the government will pay for it.”
The American Legion opposes any legislation or effort to close or privatize the VA through Resolution No. 372, Oppose Closing or Privatization of Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
Celli concluded, “We wouldn’t have an issue with the bill if it contained the passage that is reflected in the VA handbook stating ‘or the veteran’s preferred prosthetist who agrees to accept the preferred provider rate,’ which unfortunately, this bill is missing.”
The American Legion opposes H.R. 2322.
H.R. 3832: Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act
H.R. 3832 directs the VA to connect VA health-care providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) databases which track controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs ensure health-care providers do not accidently prescribe dangerous and potentially lethal combinations of drugs to patients who also see other healthcare providers.
“The Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act will bring the VA online with state-based prescription monitoring programs,” Celli said. “This is in the best interest of patients and helps doctors provide holistic quality medicine at the federal level.”
The American Legion supports the use of Electronic Health Records as a method of coordinating care provided to veterans inside and outside VA medical facilities and the controlled sharing of electronic medical records so that veterans can receive the highest possible quality health care available through Resolution No. 83, Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record.
The American Legion supports H.R. 3832.
H.R. 4334: Improving Oversight of Women Veterans’ Care Act of 2017
H.R. 4334 would enhance the monitoring needed for effective oversight of women veterans health care in VA and community care programs. This legislation would require VA to report to Congress women veterans’ accessibility to gender-specific health care in any community of care program.
“We still need to address the inequities facing our women veterans who use the Choice Program for gender-specific health care needs,” Celli said.
The report must include the average waiting period between the veterans preferred appointment date and the date on which the appointment is completed, as well as driving time required for veterans to attend their appointments.
The bill would also require VA medical facilities to report to the Secretary the compliance and non-compliance of the facility to ensure they meet quality care standards for women veterans. Evidence gathered from the reports could potentially help the VA enhance and preserve the benefits and the medical care for women veterans while providing timely access to care.
The American Legion supports any legislation and programs within the VA that will enhance, promote, restore or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents through Resolution No. 377, Support for Veteran Quality of Life.
The American Legion supports H.R. 4334.
H.R. 4635: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and for other purposes
H.R. 4635 would help ensure that the VA’s existing peer-to-peer counseling program has sufficient female peer counselors for female veterans who are separating or newly separated from military service. This bill, as written, would also emphasize counseling for women who suffered sexual trauma while serving, have PTSD or another mental health condition, or are at risk of becoming homeless.
The American Legion supports the goal of this legislation, recognizing the risk of suicide is 2.4 times higher among female veterans when compared to their civilian counterparts. The American Legion also recognizes existing peer-to-peer counseling programs have been successful and this bill creates a more representative program for the veteran population.
“Peer counselors are veterans themselves and can relate in profound ways to the mental health challenges facing fellow veterans,” Celli noted in his written testimony. “By connecting female veterans with one another, peer-to-peer assistance can empower female veterans to connect with each other and their communities.”
The American Legion continues to exert maximum effort to ensure that the VA utilizes returning servicemembers for positions as peer support specialists in the effort to provide treatment, support services and readjustment counseling for those veterans requiring these services through Resolution No. 364, Department of Veterans Affairs to Develop Outreach and Peer to Peer Programs for Rehabilitation.
The American Legion supports H.R. 4635.
Draft bill: VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018
The American Legion supports VA’s statutory medical research mission and has donated millions of dollars toward expanding their scientific research, according to Celli. VA innovation is widely championed for their breakthrough discoveries in medicine and has been recognized over the years with several Nobel Prizes for scientific work that has benefited the world over.
VA officials report that about 60 percent of veterans returning from combat deployments and 50 percent of older veterans suffer from chronic pain compared to 30 percent of Americans nationwide. Many veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain, especially those of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation, have told The American Legion that they have achieved improved health care outcomes by foregoing VA-prescribed opioids in favor of medical cannabis.
“And yet there isn’t a single physician who has been formally trained by an accredited U.S.-based medical school on what this plant can, and, or can’t do,” Celli said. “There is no education that discusses medicinal uses, drug interaction, placebo effect, dosage rates, strains, or anything else regarding this plant because the United States Drug Enforcement Agency continues to insist that cannabis has, and I quote, ‘No currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.’”
Resolution No. 11, Medical Marijuana Research, calls on the Drug Enforcement Agency to license privately funded medical marijuana production operations in the United States to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research and urges Congress to remove marijuana from Schedule I and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum, will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value.
“This draft legislation will call on VA to conduct the research necessary to determine of the cannabis plant, marijuana, has medicinal value, or not,” Celli said. “Our veterans are asking for this research, and our nation has an obligation to provide it.”
In October 2017, The American Legion conducted a nationwide survey of veterans and the results reinforce The American Legion’s continued efforts under Resolution 11.
“We call on Congress to conduct oversight hearings and support legislation that enables research on cannabis,” according to Celli’s written testimony. “And the medical impact it could have for Americans suffering from opioid over-prescription, pain, depression and a host of other known ailments, and direct departments and agencies within the administration to fully cooperate in all federally authorized scientific research and offer assistance as needed to authorize extensive research.”
The American Legion supports this draft bill.
Draft Bill: To make certain improvements in the family caregiver support program of the Department of Veterans Affairs
The American Legion advocates for equal benefits for all veterans regardless of period of service, and will never support a reduction in benefits. This bill reduces benefits to the existing caregiver program.
The American Legion opposes this draft bill.