Tag Archives: veterans

How to Increase Spiritual Fitness with Competition

Are You Competitive in Only One Way?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vezos Haberachah – Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

Competition has gotten a bad reputation over the last few decades. Children’s programs are notorious for giving everyone a ribbon no matter how abysmal their performance. One of the few places this idea doesn’t reign supreme is the armed forces.

How to Increase Spiritual Fitness with Competition

Competition with Others Produces Greatness

The military remains proud of its up or out culture. Annual reviews let service members know where they stand in relation to their peers. A process known as racking and stacking determines the performance hierarchy at a command. A select percentage at the top advances. The rest may see their careers stagnate.

Substantial improvement that doesn't place you in a high relative ranking constitutes failure. You might be able to hang on for a few more years. But if you don't advance, High Year Tenure forces you to leave.

Of course, the military only rates factors related to your military duties. Primarily these include physical matters, such as skills proficiency and leadership ability. Spiritual fitness doesn't come into play. The military relegates this to G-d. Parshas Vezos Haberachah reveals the rating system:

“And Moses, servant of G-d, died there in the land of Moab by the mouth of G-d.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 34:5).

As the end of his life neared, Moses urged the Israelites to reflect. The Almighty showed him the Promised Land from across the Jordan. Then Moses died as he lived, by the word of G-d. No mention is made of a eulogy. But the Torah names him the greatest prophet in history.

The Rambam, an exceptional Torah commentator, said anyone can be as righteous as Moses. How does this reconcile with the Torah’s declaration that there will never be a prophet as great as Moses? The answer lies in not confusing effort with effect. Moses dedicated his life to G-d. By doing so, he reached the pinnacle of virtue. The Almighty endowed him with unprecedented prophecy.

By dedicating yourself to G-d’s service, you can reach Moses’s level of righteousness. But you’ll receive a different reward. You won't become a greater prophet than Moses. But, you may get an outstanding marriage or amazing children. The Creator may bless you with wealth. He may hold a special place for you in the World to Come.

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It looks like the Almighty has created a competition for spiritual achievement. Moses appears to set the standard. But not all is as it seems.

Competition Against Yourself Produces Greatness

Spiritual accomplishment is not a contest against others but with yourself. Are you trying to surpass your finest effort? If not, it doesn’t matter that you know more scripture or give greater amounts of charity than anyone else. G-d’s interested in how much you know relative to what you knew last year or last week, not Moses. He cares how much you strive to improve.

Moses and many other outstanding religious figures give you targets at which to aim. But the Creator delights when you use your abilities to their fullest. In so doing, you build spiritual resilience. And, you deepen your relationship with Him.

Competition with others isn’t inherently bad. Nor is self-competition obviously good. A resilient life recognizes each has its realm.

Vezos Haberachah completes this year’s cycle of Torah readings. Like the rhythm of life: birth, death, rebirth, next week begins the next round of sifting lessons for our lives from G-d’s instructions to the world. Each will give you the opportunity to improve your inner life. We’ll pursue the self-competitive goal of perpetual growth, even as we deal with the competitive pressures of military and civilian business life.

How do you motivate yourself to pursue spiritual fitness?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

You Can Break Military Occupational Specialty Codes…

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Last week’s post showed how to assess the experience and educational level of military people. You saw the typical veteran is ahead of his civilian peers on both counts. But businesses and veterans struggle to understand each other when talking about skills. Nonetheless, you can pinpoint the ones you need. The bureaucratic nature of the military will do most of the work for you.

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

Job Specialties by the Numbers

Next time you meet a veteran, ask him what his military specialty was. Chances are you’ll get an answer like, “I was an 11 bravo.” Bravo is the phonetic alphabet equivalent of the letter B. The number and letter combination is called a Military Occupational Specialty Code. The Army has about 190 of them.

Each branch of the military classifies its people according to codes. They go by the following names:

Army - Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Army – Warrant Officers: Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty Code (WOMOS)

Army – Officers: Area of Concentration (AOC)

Marine Corps – Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Marine Corps – Officers: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Navy - Enlisted: Rating

Navy - Officer: Designator

Air Force – Enlisted: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Air Force – Officers: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Each service has a different coding system. Most are combinations of numbers and letters. The Navy is the last holdout for using names, such a yeoman or SWO (Surface Warfare Officer). The links in the above list will take you to guidance current as of this writing.

In addition to these basic classifications, service members can earn specialty designations. Again, they go by different names. The Army has ASIs, Additional Skill Identifiers. The Navy has NEBCs, Navy Enlisted Billet Classification codes. In a simple example, if you need an office manager, the related Navy rating is a yeoman with a NEBC of 1815 – Office Manager.

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Many service members haven't done the paperwork to get these designations. But they’ll know the ones relevant to their job specialty. If you choose to learn ASIs, NECBs, and the like, you can be even more specific about your job needs.

Put Your New Knowledge into Practice

Let’s look at an example of how this can work in practice. Say you need a geographic information system (GIS) analyst. The military is the perfect place to find one. Every service branch has this job specialty.

The relevant codes are:

Army: 12Y – Geospatial Engineer and 35G -Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst

Marine Corps: 0261 – Geographic Intelligence Specialist

Navy: AG - Aerographer's Mate

Air Force: 3E5X1 – Engineering

The names associated with the codes can be deceiving. Service members in these job specialties get trained in and use GIS systems.

Combine this information with what you learned in my previous post. If you want an entry-level GIS analyst, look for a veteran in the E-3 or E-4 pay grades. He’ll have a working knowledge of various systems. If you want a more experienced analyst who can be a team leader, target the E-5 and E-6 pay grades.

An E-6 with 8 years of military service earns $62,600 after adjusting his pay for the third that’s non-taxable. Salaries I’ve seen for GIS analysts range up to $70,000 so pay expectations mesh. Figure out the typical pay of a service member you're targeting using my Military-to-Civilian Pay Convertor.

When you post your job openings, include language like the following:

FOR TRANSITIONING SERVICE MEMBERS AND VETERANS…

 

Seeking E-5s or E-6s in military specialties

Army - 12Y or 35G, Marine Corps – 0261, Navy – AG, Air Force - 3E5X1

Consider posting your job opening in veteran’s groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Although there are hundreds of specialties, many won’t apply to your organization. Once you learn the ones that do, you can communicate your specific needs.  Your ability to speak directly to veterans will give you a competitive advantage. Now go out and hire adaptable, well-trained, experienced military people.

What do you find most confusing about how the military personnel structure works?

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How to Match Veterans to Your Job Openings

3 Qualifications All Military People Have

3-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

From last week, you’ve seen that the military ingrains adaptability in its people. Now let’s look at how you can find veterans with the specific skill set you need. Most jobs require a mix of soft and hard skills. Your organization may call the first group people skills or emotional intelligence. It may refer to the latter as technical or practical skills. The names don't matter as much as understanding their military equivalents.

How to Match Veterans to Your Job Openings

Military Career Tracks

Military people have two basic career paths: enlisted and officer. About 80% of 1.3 million people on active military duty are enlisted personnel. The career paths cross when enlisted people become officers. Most warrant officers come from mid to senior level enlisted ranks. Rarely will you find enlisted people who started out as officers.

Most enlisted people join between completion of high school and age 21. Often, and for a variety of reasons, they’ve found college is not for them. Their first step is basic training, which lasts from 8-1/2 to 12 weeks. Most of the time, they’ll receive follow-on training in their specific job.

Junior enlisted work to gain technical proficiency in their military occupation. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) develop training and leadership skills while advancing their hard skills. Senior/staff non-commissioned officers (SNCOs) train NCOs and junior commissioned officers.

By contrast, all service branches require commissioned officers to have a four-year degree. Only 20% graduate from a service academy. The rest go through a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in college or join after college and attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). (The Air Force calls it Officer Training School.) As a result, officers tend to be a little older then enlisted when they begin active military duty.

Junior officers are expected to exercise leadership while they gain greater technical proficiency in their job. Senior officers hone their leadership skills while developing command ability.

Staff officers bring hard skills to the military. They attend an abbreviated officer-training course to acclimate them to military life.

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Leadership is the key to promotion for both the enlisted and officer career paths.

Education, Soft Skills, and Experience

With the above in mind, you can begin to match job openings to military qualifications. What education level and mix of hard and soft skills does a position need?

1. Education Level. Contrary to the stereotype, military people are better educated than the population as a whole. They are 1.5 times more likely to have graduated high school. Over 90% of enlisted people have their diploma. Officers are three times more likely to have a college degree. Eighty-four percent of officers have at least bachelor’s degree. Over 40% have an advanced degree.

2. Mix of Soft and Hard Skills. The more a job entails the former, the more senior the military person you should target. NCOs provide hands-on leadership. The civilian equivalents include foreman, team leader, or supervisor. SNCOs provide daily operational leadership. They have responsibilities similar to managers or directors in civilian organizations. See last week’s post for more on leadership levels.

A service member’s job determines his hard skills. I’ll cover military occupational specialties in my next post.

Time in service (TIS), how long someone stays in the military, varies by category, job, and contract. Most enlisted people serve for one or two active duty periods, lasting a total of four to six years. Officers have to serve at least eight years. Several of these years can be in the reserves.

To be eligible for a pension, a person must serve at least 20 years. Service members separated early for medical reasons may qualify for pension-like payments.

Broken down by category, TIS is as follows:

The higher the pay grade, the longer the TIS. And, with greater TIS comes multiple deployments. This gives a service member the opportunity to put his skills to use under the most adverse conditions.

As with any organization, many people do not fit into the general patterns outlined above. Nonetheless, they give you the guidance you need to figure out which group of military people has the basic qualifications you need for a particular job.

Next post, I’ll cover military occupations. Then I’ll give you an example of how to use this information to create a detailed job description tailored directly to the veterans you want to recruit.

What do you find most confusing about how the military personnel structure works?

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How to Handle the Fragmentation of Civilian Life

Have You Prepared for All Aspects of Your Transition?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ha’azinu – Deuteronomy 32:1-52

You may not have thought about it. But military life is integrated. On base, you have facilities serving your physical needs: exercise, medical care, food, and clothing. You can get mental and spiritual support. To a large degree, every unit in the field and ship is self-supporting. Civilian life is fractured. When you transition you need time to rebuild a whole life from scattered pieces.

How to Handle the Fragmentation of Civilian Life

Transitioning Creates Outer and Inner Conflict

The fragmented nature of civilian life makes leaving the military chaotic. That’s why I often talk about reintegration. Transitioning requires more than finding a new home and job. You need to restore a complete structure for daily life.

In the days of wooden sailing ships, rope makers twisted and wove strands of hemp, cotton, and other fibers together to make ropes as thick as seven inches or more. When pulled, any individual thread would snap. But entwined, they often withstood gale force winds.

It took at least four to six months to grow hemp and make such heavy rope. For a life, Parshas Ha’azinu explains the process:

“For the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob a rope of his possession.” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 32:9)

This week’s parsha ends this cycle of Sabbath readings. Moses taught how G-d and the Israelites’ existence would intertwine. He noted how Jacob combined the strengths of three generations. Abraham’s kindness and Isaac’s sense of justice integrated with his spiritual strength. So he overcame his struggle with the angel. (Genesis 32:22-23) He was ready to face life in all its complexity. The Israelites could follow this example.

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The multifaceted nature of life is just one of many ways rope symbolizes your transition.

Ensure You're Strong

Our military service binds us together. But if we braid our rope from delicate or worn out fibers it will break under stress. Each of us needs to revitalize himself. Then, despite some of us being so fragile we snap, the rest of us can maintain our unbreakable bond.

Each of us intertwines character traits that make up our personalities. Some will serve our reintegration. Others will hamper it. Transitioning entails strengthening the positive fibers. At the same time, we have to engage in the laborious process of unraveling the negative ones.

To rejuvenate, know a rope connects you to the Almighty. Each deed strengthens or breaks a filament connecting you to the Creator. Through daily work on this relationship, you create the ability to tug on the rope. This brings G-d’s presence closer to you in this world during times of trouble.

A rope made of inferior hemp will break in a hurricane. Likewise, transitions made in haste with insufficient thought unravel when hardship strikes. Focus on growing stronger through each step of your reintegration. Give yourself enough time to weave sturdy bonds before taking on extra burdens. And remember, G-d is a tug away.

What daily task strengthens your connection to G-d?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Mine Veterans to Find the Best Employees

2 Problems Solved by Hiring Military People

3 minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Unemployment is at its lowest rate in ten years. So you’d think it would be easy to find a job. Yet veterans and civilians struggle despite 7.1 million openings. What gives? Many business owners, economists, and government officials agree a skills gap hampers hiring. Economist James Bessen wrote the most lucid explanation I’ve found. He identifies two problems: 1. Finding people with certain specific skill sets and 2. Recruiting employees who can adapt their skills at the pace of industry change. Both describe military people.

How to Mine Veterans to Find the Best Employees

The Military Trains in Adaptability

Take the second issue first. Have you seen the movie, Heartbreak Ridge? Clint Eastwood inculcates his Marines with the ethos of “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” The Marine Corps embeds these values in its people.

I saw it in action when my air wing deployed. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, the legendary Death Rattlers, had some of the oldest fighter jets in the fleet. Yet ingenuity and tenacity maintaining their planes kept them flying as much as those of squadrons with much newer equipment.

And I’ve seen Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen as resourceful as Marines. With today’s undermanned units and equipment older than maintenance crews, you have to be creative to get the job done.

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Veterans don't think to mention this skill. It’s so much a part of them it would be like saying they know how to breathe. And you don't see it in information on veterans, such as this summary by the VA. Not every veteran has it in equal amounts. But if you ask about their experience, you’ll soon find the level of their adaptability.

The Basics of Military Personnel Structure

With resourcefulness a given, you need to find military people with specific skill sets you need. Here’s the challenge. Many veterans don't know how to translate their military training and experience into language civilians understand. But if you make a small investment in learning the military personnel system, you can use terminology they know.

Consider that veterans have little or no experience finding a civilian job. They don't know the process, language, or how to market themselves. The people who train them in such skills mean well. But they don't have much job-hunting experience either.

If you have a growing business, you need to expand your workforce on a regular basis. So it makes sense to have one or two people at your company learn the military personnel structure. Then they can find quality employees with your required skills sets among the many resourceful veterans looking for work.

I’ll explain the basic structure here. Then, over the next few weeks, I’ll deal with:

  • How pay grade relates to education, experience, and leadership ability.
  • Military job codes and how you can use them to unearth the skills you need.
  • Questions you can ask veterans to help them uncover their true abilities.

There are three categories of personnel or pay grades in the military:

Enlisted people (E1 through E9 pay grades). Technical skill and leadership ability increase with pay grade. They break down into three groups, though variations exist among the service branches:

  1. Junior Enlisted (E1 through E3). Rank and file employees, such as technicians, mechanics, and analysts.
  2. Non-Commissioned Officers - NCOs (E4 through E6). High skills level and first level supervision, such as team leaders.
  3. Senior or Staff Non-Commissioned Officers - SNCOs (E7 through E9). Skill mastery and leadership from managers to lower level C-Suite capability.

Warrant Officers (W1 through W5 pay grades). Combine the expertise and training ability of SNCOs with the operational leadership of commissioned officers.

Commissioned Officers (O1 through O10 pay grades). Leadership ability and command authority increase with pay grade. They break down into two broad categories and three levels. The categories are:

  1. Line Officers. Exercise command authority.
  2. Staff officers. Professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, and chaplains who advise commanders.

The three levels are:

  1. Junior Officers (O1 through O3). Tactical and small unit leadership, equal to mid level management to lower level C-Suite.
  2. Senior Officers (O4 through O6). Operational and administrative unit leadership, equal to mid to senior C-Suite level.
  3. General and Flag Officers (O7 through O10). Generals and admirals who form the uniformed senior leadership of each service branch. Equal to senior C-Suite executives and directors.

Like with any organization, abilities vary based on the individual. But with this basic structure in mind, you can begin to target the skill and leadership level you need.

What is the biggest hiring problem you face?

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