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.
By Lida Citroen
Professionals from every industry enjoy the value and power of LinkedIn to grow their professional network, promote their personal brand, connect with likeminded individuals, share information, celebrate success and much more.
With over 467 million users, LinkedIn provides a robust opportunity for job seekers to elevate their visibility, showcase their skills and experience, and connect with influencers who can help them secure their next job.
As a military veteran, you were likely taught that being on LinkedIn is important, but you may not have clear insight into its power when you search for a civilian job. As a job seeker, be sure to avoid these common LinkedIn mistakes:
Listing the wrong city. As part of your official LinkedIn profile, you are given the chance to list your city in your header. If your last duty station is Colorado Springs, Colorado, but you intend to relocate home to Little Rock, Arkansas after you leave the Army, you should list Little Rock as your city. This helps recruiters scouring for candidates in the area identify who can work there. If you list Colorado Springs, you will attract recruiters seeking candidates for jobs in Colorado.
Forgetting your “headline.” LinkedIn gives you a headline of one to three lines underneath your name. You get 120 characters to hook the viewer on your profile. Instead of listing, “seeking next opportunity,” consider something that uses the keywords for the types of job you’re seeking, is interesting and provides value to the viewer. For instance, instead of “Army veteran looking for IT job,” consider, “Passionate about using technology to solve complex business problems and integrate solutions for innovative companies.”
Wearing your uniform. Your profile photo is typically the first thing a viewer sees when they come to your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve already separated from the military and your profile photo continues to show you in uniform, you could send the message to recruiters that you’re not ready for a civilian job. Show yourself dressed in the clothes of the job you aspire to secure.
Showcasing your spouse. I’ve seen many LinkedIn profile photos where individuals use their wedding photo, baby picture, or photo of them with a pet instead of a professional headshot. LinkedIn is a professional online platform, and your photo should feature only you.
Not posting. The point of LinkedIn is to learn about each other and find ways to share value. If you only “like” other people’s posts, and don’t share your own perspective, ideas, thoughts, information or successes, others can’t get to know you. In particular, recruiters and hiring managers won’t learn who you are, what you value, what you’re knowledgeable in, and where you might be a fit for their company.
Job seekers on LinkedIn should remember that employers scour the platform looking for candidates who might not even be in the job market yet. They want to see what you write about, how you articulate your experience and value, and what benefit you could provide to their company.
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.”