Even After the Army, Noncommissioned Officers Continued to Lead the Way!

Leonard Nimoy - Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Nimoy

With the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, not only did we lose a great actor, director, and author; we, unfortunately lost a veteran and former Noncommissioned Officer (NCO). Staff Sergeant Nimoy, was assigned to Army Special Services and even acted in a military training video depicting a Solider with “shell shock”, now referred to Post Traumatic Stress. This great NCO was discharged in 1955.

The non-commissioned officer corps is often referred to as “the backbone” of our armed forces. NCOs are the primary and most visible leaders in military units. They are highly skilled senior leaders primarily responsible for executing an organization’s mission through tough training and unwavering care for their troops.   You might even say NCOs are our military’s “Super Leaders”

Throughout American history, noncommissioned officers have made significant contributions to the U.S. Army and have left an indelible mark on the psyche of our nation. Today’s NCO is the most educated, professional and dedicated Soldier in the world’s profession of arms. While many NCOs choose to make the Army a lifelong career, many have left the Army, using it as a springboard into other careers. Those former NCOs took a piece of their Army service and became successful in other areas of our culture. They epitomize the true essence of the NCO.

Charles Schulz - Photo credit http://peanuts.wikia.com/wiki/Charles_M._Schulz

Charles Schulz – Photo credit http://peanuts.wikia.com/wiki/Charles_M._Schulz

Cartoonist Charles M. Shultz, known best for his creation of Charlie Brown and Peanuts, was an infantry machine gun squad leader during World War II and was discharged as a staff sergeant. Late in his life, Shultz said his proudest possession was his Combat Infantryman Badge. When asked about his Army service, he would simply say, “I was a foot Soldier.” For his contributions to the arts, Shultz was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2000, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow upon a citizen.

In the world of business, Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, served as a mess sergeant in Germany as a staff sergeant and during the Korean War. In his autobiography, Dave’s Way, he noted that serving food to 2,000 soldiers per day gave him the foundation he needed to open a restaurant chain. He said the Army gave him “some important skills about the big picture of feeding a lot of people.” Thomas went on to create the Dave Thomas Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to child adoption services.

Malcolm Forbes, the former publisher, CEO and president of Forbes magazine, served as an NCO with the 84th Infantry Division during World War II. Staff Sgt. Forbes was wounded during the Battle of Aachen and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism. Upon returning home from the war, he took over his father’s magazine and turned it into a multimillion dollar enterprise. Forbes was a philanthropist who gave millions of dollars to charity over his lifetime. He was an avid hot-air balloonist and dedicated motorcycle rider. He was also an advocate and driving force for the passing of many motorcycle safety laws. Forbes became known as the happiest millionaire in America.

Edgar Allen Poe - Photo Credit - http://www.poemuseum.org/life.php

Edgar Allen Poe – Photo Credit – http://www.poemuseum.org/life.php

Edgar Perry was born in 1809 in Boston. He enlisted into the Army in 1827 as an artilleryman. He was later discharged as a Sergeant Major in order to accept an appointment to West Point. After being at West Point for less than a year, he dropped out. Perry is better known as Edgar Allen Poe, the famous author of gothic horror, crime and detective fiction, such as The Tell-Tale Heart. Poe has been called the father of the modern short story.

Frank McCourt - Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_McCourt

Frank McCourt – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_McCourt

Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela’s Ashes, and Teacher Man, was a former Army corporal. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1930 to Irish immigrants. He was drafted during the Korean War where he served as a dog trainer and personnel clerk. After his discharge, McCourt used his G.I. Bill to attend New York University to become a teacher. He retired after 30 years of teaching both high school and college. His book ‘Tis: A Memoir, gives a very candid account of his Army experience.

Mel Brooks - Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Brooks

Mel Brooks – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Brooks

Mel Brooks, born Melvin Kaminsky in 1926, served in the Army as a combat engineer during World War II and attained the rank of corporal. In the book, It’s Good To Be The King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks by James R. Parrish, Brooks is quoted as satirically commenting on his job as a combat engineer saying, “I was two things I hated, engineering and combat.” He was remembered by his fellow Soldiers for his ability to keep them occupied by antics and singing. Brooks is best known as an actor, director and producer who was involved in such production as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the two films, The Producers.

Rod Sterling - Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Serling

Rod Sterling – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Serling

Rod Serling served as a paratrooper with the 11th Air-borne Division in the Pacific during World War II, where he was awarded a Bronze Star. He is best known for his work on the Twilight Zone, where he often reflected on his wartime service for inspiration in writing episodes. He was awarded six Emmys and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1985.

Joe Louis -  Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Louis

Joe Louis – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Louis

The world of sports has seen its share of former NCOs. Joseph Louis Barrow was born in Alabama in 1914. He was an impressive amateur boxer who quickly rose to boxing greatness. He was drafted during World War II and first served in a segregated cavalry unit. He continued to box while in the Army as a morale booster for the troops. Sgt. Joe Louis was discharged in 1945 and was awarded the Legion of Merit. He went on to defend his title as a heavyweight champion for almost 12 years. Louis was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1982.

Many former NCOs have continued to serve their nation as statesmen. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, was a sergeant in the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he was wounded twice. Charles Rangel, a representative from New York, was with the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War. He was attaining the rank of staff sergeant before his discharge.

Silvestre Reyes - Photo Credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvestre_Reyes

Silvestre Reyes – Photo Credit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvestre_Reyes

Staff Sgt. Sylvestre Reyes, a former representative from Texas, was a helicopter crew chief and was awarded the Air Medal during the Vietnam War. When talking about what the Army had done for him, Reyes said, “I have often wondered how different my life would have been if, in 1966, I had not been drafted into the U.S. Army. I was born and raised on a farm near EI Paso, Texas. I believe that had I not served in the U.S. Army, I might still be on that farm today instead of serving in the United States Congress.”

Tim Waltz - Photo Credit -  http://walz.house.gov/about/full-biography

Tim Waltz – Photo Credit – http://walz.house.gov/about/full-biography

Tim Waltz, a representative from Minnesota, retired from the Army National Guard as a command sergeant major. When asked about his service to the nation, Waltz said, “It was my great honor and privilege to serve this nation in uniform for 24 years. The leadership experience that this opportunity provided serves me well every day in Congress.”

 The United States Army gave millions of people the framework of success, drive and motivation that carried them through life. Some have made a conscious decision to stay in its ranks for a lifetime, while others have utilized the Army as a stepping stone to another career. Although most did not continue their career in the Army, the individuals outlined above join many others who truly carried on the principle idea of the Noncommissioned Officer that, “no one is more professional than I.”

The common denominator here is that former NCOs made a difference in the Army they served and continued to make a difference in the world after their tours of duty were over. Just imagine what a former Noncommissioned Officer can do to enhance your organization.

As a leader in veteran hiring strategies, Forward March, Inc., will help your organization realize the true value of our veterans and show you the best and most efficient way to attract, hire, and retain top military talent. Its people that make organizations great, are you hiring the right people?

~ Article written by Jason Caswell, Forward March Inc – Director of Training

Transitioning Military and Veteran Tools and Resources


Forward March Inc. is an SDVOB (Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business). We are a company of veterans helping veterans. Today we would like to share with veterans and transitioning military personnel some valuable tools for employment, education and transition. You can find these valuable tools and more on our website here…

Veteran’s Village and San Antonio Military Job Fair – Thursday March 19th 2015 – click here for more info

Military Veterans:

Department of Veteran’s Affairs

My Army Benefits

Veteran’s Gold Card – The Gold Card provides unemployed post 9/11 veterans with intensive and follow-up services needed to succeed in today’s job market. The God Card initiative is a joint effort of the DoL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Department of Labor Vets Program

America’s Service Locator – Find workforce services in your area nationwide.

Official Wounded Warrior Programs:

Army Wounded Warrior- AW2

Air Force Wounded Warrior

Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor

Marine Wounded Warrior

National Resource Directory – Connecting Wounded Warriors, Service Members, Veterans, Their Families and Caregivers with Those Who Support Them.

VetSuccess– VetSuccess is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and provides the opportunity for veterans to post resumes, and for employers to post job openings as well as links directly to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) national employment resources for employers.

Veterans Administration Assistance for Homeless Veterans

VA Benefits for Veterans Dependents and Survivors

National Center for PTSD

The work opportunity tax credit – Veterans Brochure

Army Soldier for Life

Marine for Life

Hero 2 Hire

Transitioning Military:

The US Army has the COOL program – “COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line) helps Army Soldiers find information on certifications and licenses related to their Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs). COOL explains how Soldiers can meet civilian certification and license requirements and provides links to numerous resources to help get them started.”

The US Navy also has the COOL program for their service members.

Active duty military personnel can also get matched with potential employers before they get out making for a smooth transition from their military career to their civilian career. Military personnel can go to their respective service branch military transition program for matching transitioning military with potential employers.

Currently the US Army is using the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which provides job assistance and separation counseling for soldiers and their families.Soldiers can learn more about this program at the official TAP site

The Marine Corps Transition Readiness Program

The US Navy uses a program called Transition GPS

The US Air Force Transition Assistance Program

The US Coast Guard Office of Work-Life Programs –Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

Employment Tools:

Real Strength – Resume and Interviewing information and much more

U.S. DOL Employment Workshop – Transition from Military to Civilian Workforce – Guide

TAP Manual (note: this is the 2001/2003 version)

Navy Transition Guide TGPS Overview Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist

Employment Outlets and Resources:

Private sector effort to hire veterans – http://www.servicelocator.org/

Locate veterans at an American Job Center near you –http://www.uschamberfoundation.org/form/hiring-500000-heroes

Business Center at CareerOneStop – http://www.careeronestop.org/businesscenter/index.aspx

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) – http://www.dav.org/

The Army Women’s Foundation – http://www.awfdn.org/

If you are interested in energy and are interested in a Federal job check out Energy.gov

Sunday, March 15th was the 96th birthday of The American Legion.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 08.31.30 History

The March 1919 Paris Caucus set in motion The American Legion.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States. Membership swiftly grew to over 1 million, and local posts sprang up across the country. Today, membership stands at over 2.4 million in 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and produced many important programs for children and youth.

You can learn more about The American Legion here…

Gaining Freedom – A Personal Journey in Surviving PTS and TBI

James A Kuiken and Freedom

Article by Author and Public Speaker James A. Kuiken

I’ve known I’ve had Post Traumatic Stress (some call it a “disorder”…but not me), and Traumatic Brain Injury (from blast / concussion injuries) for decades – but I was strong enough to manage it on my own – didn’t need any coddling or help from anyone else. I wasn’t one of those weak, attention seeking veterans whining about how tough they had it in “the war”, and how rough it was back here at home trying to “adjust”.

After all, I had been the Sergeant Major of Marine Forces Pacific, the highest Combatant Command in the Marines (overseeing 2/3 of the combat capabilities of the Marine Corps) – and was a highly decorated, combat wounded veteran of 30 years’ service in multiple wars / conflicts (both active and reserve).

I had also been a member of the federal Senior Executive Service, and a Director in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; a former Vice President and President/CEO in the corporate world; and a former candidate for United States Congress (TX-15).

Obviously, I didn’t have any problems…

Not that I was unsympathetic. With 22 Veterans / servicemembers a day committing suicide (that figures out to one killing themselves every 65 minutes), the toll is intolerable. Can you imagine if that many were dying in combat during the wars – the media and the public would go ballistic! But since its suicide, the numbers are shamefully underreported by media, and unrecognized by most of the public.

I became involved in trying to slow those numbers down, save lives, and reduce the unprecedented numbers of homeless veterans as the Vice-Chairman of the Board for Veterans 360 (www.vets360.org), an organization focused on saving lives by helping post-911 service members and Veterans with PTS and TBI issues. It wasn’t until Vets360 put out a survey to try and identify those with PTS, and I took it just for the heck of it, that I realized just how affected I was. When my survey came back, the Executive Director called me to ask if I was seeing anyone, concerned that I might be suicidal – because I “redlined” the survey (maxed out the results for PTS). I’ve never been suicidal, but that got me thinking.

I realized that once I had retired, I had begun spending more and more time in my chair, sometimes days at a time, and only getting up once or twice a day for food when I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I also realized that starting with my return from the Gulf War (1991) I had been increasingly isolating myself from family and friends, and that had only gotten worse with my trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, my activation for Op Enduring Freedom in 2002, and my time in Iraq in 2005-2006. In retrospect…I realized I had actually been having significant problems since my return to the U.S. in the mid 70’s after my first deployment… I was in serious trouble, and needed help.

I had applied to the VA for benefits / treatment in 1977, 1986, 1991, 2001, 2011, and 2013…and to date, have never received any benefits or treatment from them. Even with my Purple Heart paperwork and combat related medical records, they classified my injuries as “not service connected”… It was up to me to find my own help.

Someone recommended a service dog, so I researched it online, looking for dogs specific to PTS and TBI, and that is how I found K9s For Warriors(www.k9sforwarriors.org), a fantastic organization who pairs rescue dogs with post-911 Warriors. I contacted them, and went through a very detailed application and vetting process, and was accepted into the January 2015 class. I had no idea what I had let myself in for.

As K9s says, “We rescue the dogs, they rescue their warriors.” They use mostly rescue dogs (mine came from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky), train them for several months, and then give them additional training to help with the specific issues that their future Warrior partner has listed on their application. Once the Warrior (K9s’ terminology for the human half of the K9 team) arrives, s/he begins the three week intensive, live-in, total immersion training, where the teams bond, are trained to work with each other, the human partner is trained to continue the K9 partner’s training and certification…and the magic happens.

I remember the moment I first met Freedom…my K9 partner. I can’t describe the overwhelming joy I felt when he came directly to me, licked my hand, and sat by my side. We quickly became inseparable, and a completely bonded team.

Many of these Warriors are early in their recovery, and have significant issues with crowds, noises, ambient movement, etc…and as happens in each class, most of them (myself included) have episodes or even melt-downs during the training evolution. K9s is well equipped to recognize the signs, pull the team aside and mitigate the issue, and then put them right back up in the saddle to continue to gain exposure and training. The biggest factor is the dog – your partner. Often they recognize the signs before you do yourself, and take action to get you focused, on track, and feeling safe and not isolated.

This does not come cheap. K9s, like all non-profit organizations, works at finding funding every single day to save these rescue dogs lives, and provide the training and service that can help save Veteran’s / servicemember’s lives. To put a single K9 Service Team through costs thousands of dollars. Luckily…my Team was sponsored by Petsmart (www.petsmart.com), one of the corporate sponsors that have stepped forward. Petsmart not only sponsored my Team, but continues to work with and help fund the K9s for Warriors program.

Since returning home, Freedom and I have continued to bond (I didn’t think it could get any deeper, but it does) and work, play, and go everywhere together. I’ve begun to re-establish the connections with family and friends that I had withdrawn from, and recapture the life I had let slip away. I now see with clear eyes just how far I had let it go – and how much trouble I was actually in. When he came into my life, I gained Freedom from a hard downhill slide, and now look forward to helping to “de-stigmatize” PTS and TBI, which as I mentioned in my earlier post (Lets Get Real about PTS and TBI), is “a normal reaction to an abnormal situation”.

Forward March Inc. is very proud to repost this article with permission from Mr. Kuiken. You can, and should, read more of Author and Speaker James Kuiken’s posts here