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USAA Tips: Give your LinkedIn profile an end-of-year refresh

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

LinkedIn is the primary professional social networking and professional social media business application. LinkedIn is used as a resume, a way to network and connect, and a team building application. Finish the new year strong by updating and revising your LinkedIn skill sets.

Here are 5 ways to update your LinkedIn profile:

Refresh Your Photo.

A new, professional photo with professional dress and an inviting smile is one of the best, high impact, and immediate things that you can do for your career. If you are a transitioning military member, then focus on civilian dress and not a dress uniform or a deployment photograph. If in doubt, err on the side of traditional, professional dress and appearance. Your LinkedIn photograph should be how you look and appear everyday: professional, happy, and engaged.

Quantify Your Accomplishments.

For hiring managers and peers, one of the hardest items to determine is how to evaluate the quality of your achievements. Use metrics and data that clearly and easily reflect that impact in terms of people promoted, dollars saved, a percentage a process improved, or new ideas and processes innovated. A common mistake for military members is to list their responsibilities instead of their accomplishments. People want to know what you accomplished – make it easy for them to understand through the clear use of data in simple sentence formats.

Update Your Keywords, Skills & Publications.

Every industry has keywords in terms of developments, technology, innovation, and key software. Find and revise your resume with the top keywords that are trending in your industry, company, and metro area. This will help significantly when recruiters search for key terms to help discover new talent for their organizations. If you have published an article or been in the news, then update the publication section within LinkedIn.

Update Your News Feeds.

Using LinkedIn as a news source for key trends in your industry is a great way to use LinkedIn’s power for your career. Update who you follow, find key hashtags to track, and use key groups to participate in discussions. In addition, be very judicious with how many people you track and follow to create a news feed that benefits you LinkedIn can become cluttered with “non-work” material so use the follow and unfollow functions to personalize your news feed.

Send an Update to Key Contacts.

Sending an end of the year message to key contacts is another great way to stay in touch and find ways to help others. A short 2-3 paragraph message on your accomplishments, professional aspirations, and plans for the next year helps keep contacts updated on your activities.

LinkedIn is a great tool that must be consistently updated to power your career and career aspirations to the next level.

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act fails in Senate

A last-ditch effort to pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, failed in the Senate Dec. 10.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., asked her Senate colleagues for unanimous consent to pass the legislation. Unanimous consent can precipitate the passage of a bill, but it can also be stopped if just one senator objects. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., objected due to concerns over cost, halting the passage of the bill.

On Dec. 12, The American Legion joined with Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETs, Military Officers Association of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America in asking President Donald Trump to use his “personal leadership to help Congress pass critical legislation to correct a long overdue injustice harming tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans.” In a signed letter, The American Legion and the six other veterans service organizations said “We understand there is concern about the cost to provide benefits and health care to Blue Water Navy veterans suffering from cancers and other illnesses linked to Agent Orange. But when our nation asks its brave men and women to serve in harm’s way, America assumes a sacred obligation to care and compensate for the injuries and illnesses they suffer during that service.”

Veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange if diagnosed with a medical condition associated with the herbicide, according to the Agent Orange Act of 1991. However, this act applied only to veterans who served on land and in Vietnam’s inland waterways, excluding those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam known as “Blue Water” Navy veterans. H.R. 299 would extend these benefits to the Blue Water Navy veterans. The bill will have to be reintroduced from the beginning if the Senate fails to pass the legislation before the end of the 115th Congress.

USAA Tips: Preparing for your annual performance review

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

There are ways to make the difficult performance review process a productive and helpful one – both for you and your boss.

Follow these tips to help make the best of a difficult business process and to position yourself for a pay increase and a strong start to the next year.

Schedule A Meeting Two Weeks in Advance with Your Results Included.

Having a good annual performance review with your boss means scheduling your performance review at least two weeks in advance with your boss. Instead of waiting for your boss, proactively schedule a meeting with your boss and try to schedule it for a Wednesday afternoon or a Thursday morning. In addition to scheduling, include your annual performance review results, what you want to review, and a written agenda for the meeting. This preparation will help your boss immensely and give them time to prepare the necessary forms.

Focus on a Wide Range of Quantified Result Metrics in Your Area of Responsibility.

One of the areas that makes annual performance reviews so difficult is the lack of specific, quantified measures using understood data of what you accomplished during the year. Organizations tend to think of their results in 5 major areas: (1) Revenue, (2) Customer Satisfaction, (3) Cost Reduction, (4) Efficiency Improvement, and (5) Other Areas (Innovation, New Products, Etc.). For your performance review, you want to demonstrate how you helped improve each of these five critical areas using understood and well-defined data elements. To help in this process, follow this formula.

  • Category: Revenue, Customer Satisfaction, Cost Reduction, Efficiency, Or Other.

  • Measure at The Start of The Year

  • Measure at The End of The Year.

  • % And Value Change: +/- With $ And % Improvement.

  • How You & Your Team Accomplished This Throughout the Year.

  • Other Team Members Who Were Critical to Your Success.

This formula can be used in any function and in any position level. The key element is to show your work, steps, and to use data to demonstrate how you accomplished the improvements. It is critical to remember that you may not have an equal number in each category and that is fine. Job responsibilities often have specific focus areas. Second, nothing improves with one project or in one period of the year. Third, no one is solely responsible for any improvement. Share the accomplishments with the names of team members who offered critical contributions.

Focus on How You Helped Your Team Members Improve.

One of the critical tasks of leaders within any organization is how they grow and develop talent. This can be a list of people within your team that were promoted, took on new responsibilities, were assigned to corporate wide projects or completed critical education milestones. The results of growing current team members into the organization’s future leaders is a critical area of focus in the annual performance review.

Bring Your Plan for The Next Year to Continue Your Results.

An annual performance review must be more than a review of the year’s accomplishments. An annual performance review also needs to be a start of how you will continue the positive results of the current year with more achievements in the following year. Showing how you plan to continue your positive results is the sign of a great employee because it recognizes that achievement and good results are not just a singular result but an ongoing challenge.

Ask for Reasonable Pay Increases & More.

Once you have demonstrated your quantified results, it is easier to ask for additional pay and benefits for the next year. What many people lose sight of is that compensation is more than just the amount that you are paid. Instead start with other benefits that you want to meet your goals besides pay. It could be a flex schedule, permission to take a class during the day, a recommendation to join a corporate leadership program, or a recommendation to start a corporate wide initiative led by you. Then, once you have asked for these, ask for a reasonable pay increase and bonus.

Schedule 6 to 8 Performance Reviews with Your Boss During the Upcoming Year.

Finally, put six to eight performance reviews on the calendar for the next year to discuss your performance and to give your boss time to coach. If you have an end of year performance form, ask your boss to complete it each meeting so you know where you stand for the year-end review.

The annual performance review should be a time where you demonstrate what you have done and not a period of stress. Focus on results, key team members that helped projects succeed, and how you will bring that success forward into the next year.

Legion Baseball to exhibit at ABCA convention in Dallas

Members of the American Legion Baseball Committee and national staff will exhibit at the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Dallas Jan. 3-6.

Dubbed “the world’s largest gathering of baseball coaches,” the 75th annual convention will have skippers from every level of baseball attend the event to hone their craft. The event includes a trade show, theaters, meetings, award celebrations and more.

In addition to the usual activities, the Youth Coaches Session returns following a successful inaugural year in 2018 and features 15 clinics tailored specifically for coaches of youth-level teams up to age 14 on Friday and Saturday.

American Legion Baseball will be located prominently at the trade show in booth 1505 between Diamond, Rawlings and Wilson.

Current and prospective Legion Baseball coaches are invited to stop by the booth throughout the convention.

To register for the convention, visit abca.org/convention.

Hall of Fame calls on two more former Legion Baseball players

There will now be 79 former American Legion Baseball players in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., after Lee Smith and Harold Baines, both former Legion players, were voted in this week.

The two players were voted in by the Today's Game Era Committee, a 16-member panel appointed by the Hall of Fame to review players retired for at least 15 seasons that had not previously been inducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Smith, a pitcher who went 5-1 to lead American Legion Natchitoches, La., to a District 8 title in 1973, was elected unanimously. Baines, an outfielder who played for American Legion Talbot, Md., Post 70 before becoming the first pick in the 1977 draft, was approved with 12 votes.

Smith was one of the top relievers in baseball and retired in 1997 as the Major League’s all-time leader in saves with 468. The seven-time All-Star played in the Majors from 1980 until 1997 with eight teams.

Baines had a lengthy career, spanning 22 years, primarily with the Chicago White Sox. He accumulated 2,866 career hits and was an All-Star six times.

This continues a strong recent trend for Legion Baseball alums. Five former Legion players were inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2018, as Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome were voted in by the writers, while Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were approved by the Modern Era Committee. In 2017, all three inductees, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez, played Legion Baseball.

In January, the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce the remaining 2019 inductees.

Legion Riders chapter makes special delivery to area veterans

With average winter temperatures barely topping the mid-20s as a high and dipping into single digits for the low, The American Legion Riders from Caryl Sydney Hanson Post 255 in Brainerd, Minn., are somewhat limited as to outdoor riding activities over the holiday season.

But those same Riders found a way to be active while serving veterans in their community despite dealing with the Minnesota winters.

For the past few years, ALR Chapter 255 and other members of the post’s American Legion Family have conducted a cookie bake, providing dozens and dozens of cookies to area veterans, local senior citizens and those otherwise unable to bake or buy their own holiday cookies.

Part of the reason for the project was to build camaraderie within Post 255’s American Legion Family, Chapter 255 Director Blair Francis said. “But we also needed something to do for the winter months to keep us active,” he said. “So I brought up doing a cookie bake.”

Francis pitched the idea to the Riders, who bought into it. The first year the post produced 100 dozen cookies and quickly realized that with the size of the post's kitchen, the cookie production could grow.

This year the chapter will bake around 240 dozen cookies over the course of four hours on Dec. 22. They’ll be delivered by Legion Family members, including Santa Claus – played by Legion Rider and past post and district commander Dewayne Collins.

Members of the post’s Legion Family gather to help out, as do members of other local clubs and organizations. “Everybody works together and loves it,” Francis said. “Everybody got to do the part of the baking they like to do. Nobody had to do anything they didn’t want to do.”

While some cookies are available to be picked up at the post, Francis said the focus is to provide cookies to “people that don’t have the capacity or the means to make (cookies).”

Francis said the recipients – which include area veterans, senior citizens and their caregivers – are appreciative. “They’re grateful,” he said. “We had one veteran we’re going to (deliver to), and he’s excited. He’s a shut-in, and his mom’s past the age where she bakes any more. He was excited to be able to give some cookies to his visitors – mainly his mom.

“This is serving our community and servicing our veterans. That’s what we do. That’s what we like to do.”

Relief efforts continue in wake of California fire

Some 60 veterans and their families impacted by last month’s Camp Fire near Paradise, Calif., received help in the form of $300 grants on Dec. 8 at Post 95 in Oroville, part of an effort by California Legionnaires to immediately help those left homeless by the deadliest wildfire in state history.

“We were able to issue $19,000 in $300 increments,” said Henry Sanchez, District 6 adjutant.

Sanchez had reached out to District 4 Commander John Leach in the aftermath of the Camp Fire to offer his help in coordinating National Emergency Fund (NEF) grant information for those affected by the wildfire. Sanchez is a member of Post 233 in Elk Grove, a few hours south of the area destroyed by the Camp Fire.

“My wife and I were delighted to help out,” said Sanchez, whose wife, Ann, is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

The Sanchezes and other Legion Family members volunteered their time Dec. 8 to distribute money at Post 95 to veterans impacted by the fire. Sanchez also helped three Legion members with the NEF application process, he said.

“I don’t have the words to describe how sad I feel seeing people go through this,” said Sanchez, who added that “99.9 percent of these veterans we helped lost everything.”

“It’s very moving to see how many people (in California and across the country) felt compelled to donate to this cause."

Donations to Post 45’s Camp Fire Relief Fund can be made by sending a check or money order to American Legion Post 45, P.O. Box 773, Corning, CA 96021. Include “Camp Fire Relief Fund” on the memo line of the check or money order to ensure the money goes to the proper account.

In addition, the National Emergency Fund is available for American Legion and Sons of The American Legion members who have been impacted by the wildfires as well as Legion posts. The NEF provides up to $3,000 for Legion and SAL members with an active membership who have been displaced due to damages to their primary residence, and up to $10,000 for posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster and whose programs and activities within the community are impacted. To apply for an NEF grant, please visit www.legion.org/emergency.

Military missions, alliance dominate commander’s visit to Korea

Like the signature quote from the movie "Top Gun," pilots at Osan Air Base helped satisfy a “need for speed,” during American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad’s visit to South Korea this week.

As a passenger in a U-2 “chase car,” Reistad couldn’t be blamed if he recalled some his days as a police officer while he and the rest of his delegation topped 100 miles per hour while driving behind a famed spy plane racing down the runway as it left to soar to the edges of the stratosphere. A journey that would give the pilot “the best view on the planet earth,” according to Air Force Maj. Stephen Bailey.

“It is amazing to see the teamwork and the communication required to fly these aircraft,” Reistad said after meeting with the 5th Reconnaissance “Blackcats” Squadron. “The responsibility that our military forces have not just in Korea, but the entire Pacific region cannot be overstated. The briefings and meetings we have had with senior military officials from Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, Camp Humphreys, Korea and our upcoming visit to Japan will help The American Legion deliver an informed message to Congress regarding the needs of those who defend our freedom every day. This knowledge is best obtained by visiting the regions and seeing it firsthand.”

That firsthand experience included time in an A-10 simulator, courtesy of Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing. “As an infantry sergeant this is not a drill that I was able to experience during my military service,” Reistad said. “But again, this demonstrates the wide range of skills that make the total team concept of our military work. The equipment, as it should be, is state of the art. Congress needs to continue to fund our military so we can keep producing the best pilots, tankers, infantry, sea crews, intelligence and support personnel in the world.”

The U.S-Republic of Korea alliance was another topic that kept surfacing during Reistad’s visit to the country.

During a formal dinner hosted by the Korean Veterans Association (KVA), The American Legion delegation met the KVA’s top leadership including the organization’s chairman, retired Gen. Kim Jin Ho. Kim served as South Korea’s 28th Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman.

The KVA has more than 10 million members and has so far raised $200,000 to erect a wall bearing the names of fallen American veterans of the Korean War to be added to the existing war memorial in Washington, D.C.

But it was recent negotiations involving North Korean denuclearization which dominated the dinner discussion.

When asked by American Legion Executive Director Lou Celli about the impact the cancellation of large U.S. military exercises was having on the negotiations, Kim was somewhat optimistic.

“Even if an exercise is cancelled, we still have many training opportunities together,” Kim said. “It is not a big issue anymore. We understand.”

As Reistad departed Korea for Okinawa, he added that he was not just impressed with the strength of the alliance and the relationship between The American Legion and the KVA, but also the growing local American Legion presence in South Korea.

“Five years ago, there were no American Legion posts in Korea. Now we have Posts 37 and Post 38. One post officer made a strong personal commitment to us that he will build additional posts here to make our presence even greater,” Reistad said. “That is the type of dedication and commitment we need not just in Korea, but throughout the entire American Legion world.”

 

 

Army rides strong defense to 17-10 victory over Navy

When it comes to the annual Army-Navy football game, past records really don't matter. Both teams play an entire season focused on winning this matchup.

As a result, it was no surprise that the 119th meeting between America's two oldest military academies was a tenacious defensive struggle. In the end, the sellout crowd of 66,749 at Lincoln Financial Field saw Army score its third straight triumph against the Midshipmen by a score of 17-10 on Dec. 8.

The Army defense has been the heart and soul of the Black Knights team all year. Though QB Kelvin Hopkins was named MVP of the game on the strength of 64 yards rushing and 61 yards passing, the award could easily have gone to any of multiple Army defenders including Jaylon McClinton (team-high 9 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception), Mike Reynolds (1 tackle, 1 interception and 3 pass break ups), Elijah Riley (3 tackles, 2 pass breakups), Ken Brinson (three tackles, 1 quarter back sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery, James Nachigal (8 tackles), Wunmi Oyetuga (7), Cole Christiansen or Amadeo West (6 each).

"It seems like on every play the whole outcome of the game is hanging in the balance," said Army coach Jeff Monken. "It was the same tonight. It was that kind of game that every single play, you're just hoping it goes your way. That's what makes it the game it is. This is the fifth one I have been a part of and all five have been decided by a touchdown or less. That's what makes it so intense, so fun to watch, so fun to be a part of. It doesn't matter what the records are, you have two evenly matched teams who play the game as hard as anyone plays it. I'm really proud of our team and just the fight and the spirit in these guys."

Some fans had not even settled into their seats by the time first half scoring was over. Keyed by a 51-yard run by Kell Walker, Army marched down the field. On the next play, quarterback Kelvin Hopkins kept the ball and ran 10 yards into the end zone with 12:42 left in the first quarter. Army (10-2) upped its lead to 10-0 early in the second half while Navy (3-10) searched for an answer at quarterback. Zach Abey and Malcolm Perry were a combined 0-for-5 with two interceptions. Early in the fourth quarter, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo went to his third option at the position -- Garrett Lewis, who had last called signals three games ago when Abey was knocked out with a leg injury against Central Florida.

"I wasn't on target throwing," Abey said. "That's something you always need to have going into the Army-Navy game, the pass option. I wasn't on target tonight."

Lewis (5-for-11 passing for a game-high 81 yards) provided the spark Navy needed. After an incompletion -- a hard, tight spiral that was just a little too low -- on his first play, he followed with a 34-yard completion to Keoni Makekau. Navy neared the goal line but a fumble gave the ball back to Army. After forcing a punt, Navy got the ball back in good field position and marched down the field for a running touchdown by Lewis, which closed the gap, 10-7.

Hopkins concluded a ball-control drive with a 2-yard run, extending Army’s lead to 17-7.

Lewis led the Midshipmen down the field again on a nine-play drive that ended with a 46-yard field goal by Bennett Moehring, cutting the Army lead to 17-10 with 27 seconds left. The ensuing onside kickoff was covered by Army, essentially sealing the win.

Army heads to the Lockheed-Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 22 in Fort Worth, Texas, where they will play the University of Houston (6-4).

Department of New Jersey working to help incarcerated veterans

The American Legion Department of New Jersey has partnered with the state’s Department of Corrections and other agencies for an initiative aimed at helping incarcerated veterans.

Through the Incarcerated Veteran Initiative, veteran inmates are interviewed, hopefully at intake, said Bob Looby, the employment and education chairman for the Department of New Jersey.

“During those interviews and in their subsequent individual transition plans, we capture their needs for records, DD-214’s, employment, housing and VA-type benefits,” Looby said.

The Department of Corrections has provided the initiative with a list of 650 self-identified veterans in the prison system.

“A vet is a vet,” Looby said. “It doesn’t make any difference what they did when they got out of the service, the main thing is how they served our country. … There’s a stigma about parolees, there’s a stigma about the incarcerated, but they’re still vets.”

The initiative has been conducting facility orientations with prison administrations, with induction interviews with the veterans “hopefully by the end of the year,” Looby said.

“Since we are playing catch-up, we are only targeting vets who will be paroled or max-out through 2019 at New Jersey’s 13 primary prisons,” Looby said. “The ultimate goal is to meet and interview the veterans at their initial intake, develop individual transition plans, provide training and obtain documents throughout their custody, and assist with housing and employment before their release.”

The initiative is a partnership between the Legion Department of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, State Parole Board, the Wilmington VA and Education and Health Centers of America.

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