Building upon the national consensus to advance the needs & interests of our military community, through creative public & private partnerships.
Securing cooperative alignments to serve the economic & wellness needs of our nation’s military.
Unlocking solutions, and creating strategic responses to support those most deserving of our efforts.
Capturing, constructing, & distributing the kinds of useful research information that could prompt real change; transforming dialogue, into a vehicle for social & economic growth within our veterans community!
…The strain of extended unemployment, delayed access to wellness benefits, and the national epidemic of veterans homelessness are all conditions unbecoming of the tremendous sacrifices made by our service-members. Thus, the ‘Champions’ series hopes to create unique opportunities to build meaningful coalitions to advance the social cause of supporting our nation’s military community.
Hello, and welcome to the conference registration page for our 2014 Champions Speaker Series & Leadership Conference! My name is T.J. Breeden, and I’m the Chairman of eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.; a non-profit organization that provides Small Business Training and Career Developmental services to military and minority communities. On behalf of our sponsors and planning committee, I would like to thank you for interest in our program. We created this series as a vehicle for intellectual collaboration; assembling leaders from across the country to exchange ideas and establish partnerships to advance veteran’s economic programs. On Thursday, May 24th of 2012, the White House Office of Public Engagement honored eleven individuals within the veterans’ community who are “Champions of Change”. These individuals have shown continued support for efforts to end veterans’ homelessness, boost veterans’ employment, treat problems with substance abuse, and develop treatment programs for those dealing with PTSD. I feel honored to have been recognized among these outstanding individuals, who continue to dedicate themselves to serving the interests of those who have sacrificed so much in defense of our country. I was equally as honored to received the Small Business Administration’s 2013 “Veterans Entrepreneurship Advocate of the Year” award on behalf of my organization’s efforts to assist transiting veterans achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions. Still, there is so much more that can be done in creating sustainable pathways for our veterans to successfully re-acclimate themselves into society, post their military commitment.
Our conference series is an extension of our MOMENTUM Expo (launched at Fort Bragg in 2012), which was the state of NC’s first all-encompassing veterans and military spousal career fair consisting of educational, employment, and entrepreneurial resource programs. Our Champions conference events are a series of private 1-day symposiums which aims to bring together 35 of the nation’s top service leaders, military advocates, researchers, wellness specialists, and resources within the public & private sectors to develop and strategically enact initiatives designed to combat the socio-economic & health disparities that exists within the military community. The goal of this type of gathering is to advance intellectual discussions that will spearhead socio-economic stimulation and wellness research amidst what many would consider one of the harshest periods of economic displacement of this generation. The first convening (held on January 31st, 2014 in Washington, DC) and the symposiums to follow will all focus specifically on exploring the connections between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and veteran’s socio-economic issues; through which we hope to make meaningful strides in identifying solutions and resources that will aid in lowering suicides, unemployment, and homelessness. The 3-part series; in coordination with New Century Planning; will extend access to the combined wealth of knowledge of leaders of innovation, business, entrepreneurship, social development, health & wellness, technology, education, community development, and intellectual affluence, to create initiatives that support communities in need.
“…Our organization’s overarching goal is to align the talented individuals of our nation’s military with employment, transitional, and educational resources from across the country; leveraging an array of intellectual assets to further workforce, wellness, and small business training programs to benefit of those who have already sacrificed so much in defense of our country. Every day, our soldiers bravely answer the call of duty in defense of our flag… now, its “OUR” turn to answer the call, and work to create opportunities that will ensure that our service-members are able to secure an economic future worthy of their military sacrifice.”
46% (of HR Managers) said they believed post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues posed a hiring challenge; just 22% said the same about combat-related physical disabilities;” which suggests that there is an apparent mis-comprehension of the social impacts that combat veterans living with PTSD will have…
EXAMINING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PTSD, VETERAN SUICIDES, AND ECONOMIC HARDSHIP:
A Huffington Post article from earlier this year entitled, “5 Growing Problems Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans Face,” examines the connections between traumatic health & wellness issues resulting from military service, and the growing economic disparities that exists f from an unemployment & transitional workforce perspective. According to the report, “about 22 veterans committed suicide each day in 2010 and 228,875 troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan returned with PTSD as of 2012, a crippling condition some experts say close relatives can contract.” This incline coincides directly with rising unemployment from within the military community. The unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans; 9.4% at the time the report was conducted (March, 2013); was up from 7.6% in the same period in 2012. Retired Army Captain and author Wes Moore further discusses how rising unemployment and rising cases of veteran suicide deaths track within range of each other on a 2013 Memorial Day broadcast on MSNBC; siting how the inability to find and maintain gainful employment; commensurate with the veteran’s skills, interests, and dignity; help to foster a socio-economic environment where veterans have resorted to suicide as a result of their struggle with PTSD, in response to economic conditions that have made it difficult to provide for their families. | (additional references: i, ii)
COMBATING THE DISPROPORTIONATELY HIGH RATES OF UNEMPLOYMENT AMONGST VETERANS & RECENTLY TRANSITIONED SERVICE-MEMBER, AND THE SOCIETAL MIS-EVALUATION OF MILITARY TALENT WITHIN THE CIVILIAN WORKFORCE:
According to a report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, “Veterans who (have transitioned out of) military service in the past decade have an unemployment rate (that steadily remains) above that of the overall national rate.” Additionally, the jobless rate for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 exceeded 20 percent throughout the course of the entire 2012 calendar year, with transitioning service-members ages 25-34 suffering from double-digit rates even as the national unemployment rate steadily declined towards the end of the last year. It is also worth mentioning that the unemployment rate for both age groups was higher than for their non-veteran peers, and thus also higher than the national average. In essence, because of limited job experience outside the military, many of today’s young veterans have difficulty expanding upon how the skills they’ve acquired through their military service translate into the private sector.
Alternatively, hiring personnel have expressed the difficulty in evaluating talent transitioning from military service. While reports have shown that unemployment among veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan War declined over the last year, the overall unemployment rate for new veterans has stayed the same. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), “veterans are considered less desirable than younger applicants with more specific skills, despite the experience and training veterans receive” (as mentioned in the exhibits article entitled: “BLS Report”). Our speaker series and conference programs aim to bring together leaders in health, wellness, and economic development to identify, develop, and introduce innovative approaches to combating the challenges faced by our service-members.
THE SOCIAL MISCONCEPTIONS OF “PTSD,” HIRING & HUMAN RESOURCES PRACTICES, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR VETERANS TO FIND GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT:
According to a 2010 report published by the Los Angeles Times, “nearly a third of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of PTSD, severe depression or traumatic brain injury” (via a 2008 study by the Rand Corp). Many of these new veterans struggle to find and retain civilian jobs; and not only are they returning to an economy in recovery, but many employers do not “know how to accommodate these invisible wounds and worry that military hires might experience a traumatic outburst.” The article goes on the describe how employers express hesitancy in their hiring practices because they aren’t sure as to “what to expect from a person with PTSD or a [traumatic] brain injury”… which could include “severe headaches, memory lapses, poor concentration, slurred speech, loss of balance, a short temper and anxiety in a crowded environment.” Research show that hiring personnel are more likely to equate the perceived psychological symptoms of PTSD brought on by military combat differently than PTSD brought on by other experiences, such as a traumatic, life altering social or domestic experience. Thus, the condition with respect to military personnel is linked with that of violent outbursts, as opposed to being seen as a health condition that is treatable. The report goes on to mention: “when the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed its members in June of 2010, 46% said they believed post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues posed a hiring challenge; just 22% said the same about combat-related physical disabilities;” which suggests that there is an apparent mis-comprehension regarding the social impacts that combat veterans living with PTSD will have within an office culture. This shared misconception, held by a relatively high percentage of those in positions of hiring authority, advances the disproportionately high rate of socio-economic displacement experienced by our veterans, reservists, and military retirees. | (additional references: iii)
CONNECTING THOSE IN NEED WITH PRE-EXISTING FEDERAL ECONOMIC PROGRAMS & BENEFITS:
Beyond the legislative efforts of the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011,the Obama Administration has also: created resources to help veterans translate their military skills for the civilian workforce (The National Resource Directory, The US Dept. of Labor “Gold Card, etc.); built new online tools to aid their search for jobs (The “My Next Move” transitional database, The “Hero to Hired” veteran recruitment program, etc.); and partnered with the US Chamber of Commerce to make it easier to connect our veterans with companies that want to hire them. The Administration has also made it a priority to incentivize employers through a series of tax credits, including the Returning Heroes Tax Credit of up to $5,600 for veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit of up to $9,600 that will increase the existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed six months or longer; forming a Department of Defense-led task force to maximize the career-readiness of all service-members, and enhancing job search services through the Department of Labor for recently transitioning veterans. Furthermore, Congress has proposed legislation that encourages communities to hire veterans to work as Policemen and Firefighters by offering preference in selective grant competitions.
Despite the federal government’s best efforts however, many within the military community find difficulty in accessing these resources; whether due to a lack of grassroots outreach, or the mere size and scope of the economic problem which creates administrative hindrances and limitations in servicing capability. | (additional references: iv, v)
CONTRIBUTING TO THE NATIONAL EFFORT TO ELIMINATE HOMELESSNESS AND DISPLACEMENT WITHIN THE VETERANS COMMUNITY:
“More than one million veterans are at risk of becoming homeless, while tens of thousands of former service-members are already living without shelter, according to the ‘Center for American Progress.” In response to these staggering statistics, the Veteran’s Administration has developed programs catered eliminate the economic displacement of retired service-members, including:
Even still, one in seven homeless people previously served in the military, a December 2011 report found, and much of the other data surrounding homeless veterans are equally worrisome” (according to a 2012 Huffington Post article). | (additional references: vi)
…It is through these kinds of efforts that we are able to demonstrate our appreciation… and each of us should do so with the same passion and zeal as those whom we collectively focus our efforts to support.
EACH SYMPOSIUM IN OUR CONFERENCE SERIES WILL CONSIST OF:
Every day, our soldiers bravely answer the call of duty in defense of our country… now, it is “OUR” turn to answer the call, and work to create opportunities that will ensure that our soldiers are able to secure an economic future worthy of their military sacrifice!
Thanks again to our tremendous group of speakers, contributors, and attendees for participating in our January conference!
The 2014 Champions Speaker Series, Leadership, and Research Conference Series ™ is an independent conference, and a component of eMerging Entrepreneurs' "MOMETUM" Expo. The program series in no way suggests or implies partnership with or direct participation from any other veterans leadership initiative or federal programs. Parrallaxed images the courtesy of Getty Images, unless otherwise specified. All Rights Reserved.