News from the Executive Committee!
Don’t miss Hank Gillen’s discussion of the value of DVVC at the end of this newsletter!
And read the stories of coronavirus resilience from some of our member organizations below!
Mark your calendars:
DVVC Spring 2021 Quarterly Meeting
in partnership with the South Jersey Community Veterans Engagement Board
Come to the April 16th Zoom event to meet and question PA & NJ legislators working on Veterans issues! Event is 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and includes networking time prior to and after the meeting.
Our legislators will present current legislation of concern to Veteran Communities. RSVP Here
STORIES OF RESILIENCE FROM OUR MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS – HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PANDEMIC YEAR
Council For Relationships Finds New Model Better Than The Old One
Retired Colonel Will Barnes and DVVC Executive Committee member Nancy Isserman teach a course at United Lutheran Seminary every two years on Understanding Military Culture and Pastoral Care. Normally it is a one-week, 40-hour intensive course. This past year, the team turned it into a 20-hour program of presentations and class discussions over five days preceded by a 20-hour independent study course, relying on multimedia material, taken over five weeks.
Students evaluated the new model very favorably, saying it provided more time to absorb the material and not more Zoom time than they could handle in a concentrated period. The team is going to recommend ULS run it this way in the future. They are now doing something similar for Eastern Seminary in a slightly more concentrated time period but again with a combination of independent study and class Zoom time.
Drexel Dragons Made Pandemic Pivot in 2020-21
“Despite the many challenges we faced in the 2019-20 academic year, I believe that my Student-Veteran Ambassador team and I were able to navigate and lead with agility, confidence and a strong commitment to the University and our partners,” said Drexel Assistant Vice President Rebecca Weidensaul, PhD. She noted the creation of clever programming to keep military-connected community united, and the projects they led for Veteran and their families, which served as a model for other Drexel programs.
Drexel started the year with exceptionally great news, moving the Veterans lounge to the more accessible Creese Student Center, securing a donor to stabilize financing for programs and services, and exceeding the frequency of visits from the previous year within one term of opening. The Student-Veteran Ambassadors ultimately transitioned the Masci Family Veterans Lounge to a virtual space, with autonomy to build community and programming. They also engaged more alumni veterans at the 2020 Homecoming event in January, while supporting colleagues in Student Success and Alumni Relations.
Rebecca and her team were able to translate in-person events and traditions “creatively and appropriately” utilizing technologies. The adapted programs include: The Drexel Day of Giving, Graduation Celebration, Memorial Day Primer, Noodle Palooza, Welcome Week, Veterans Appreciation Month, Veterans Day, Women’s HERstory month, and many alumni-featured programs. One of the greatest highlights was Drexel’s virtual participation in the Philadelphia Veterans Parade and having alumnus Kristin Leone serve as the Marshall.
Rebecca is also proud that the connection to her counterparts at other university Veteran services offices has remained strong. “My colleague Ralph DeLucia at Penn has been a great partner in keeping the meetings going and our conversations productive and promising; this region has an amazing group of professional staff supporting military-connected students and I am just so proud to be a part of it!” she said.
Cranaleith Continues to Create Community, with Extra Care
Cranaleith Spiritual Center in Philadelphia has long recognized that women Veterans face unique challenges when returning from combat, often carrying stress, grief, numbness, and anxiety in their spirits and bodies. For many years, they have offered days of reflection, healing and wellness in a supportive environment with other women Veterans to tend to soul-wounds of war, rekindle hope and compassion and reconnect to inner wisdom.
When the pandemic hit, all Cranaleith’s programs had to be moved online, bringing new concerns: Could the difficulties women Veterans face be addressed in a virtual environment?
A small group of women Veterans worked with the staff to find ways to do just that. The women Vets reached out to make personal invitations. The staff planned with extra care to create community, choose relevant themes, and provide everyone with a safe space. Hopes were realized with a dozen women at a vibrant and meaningful retreat “taster” last month.
The next Cranaleith virtual retreat, The Flower That Shatters the Stone, is slated for Saturday, April 17, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. It’s free and open to all women Veterans. Register here.
NEWS FROM OUR MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
Habitat Has Repair Funding
Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties received a grant to assist disabled Veterans with necessary home repairs.
DVVC Member Organizations are encouraged to share information about
the Veteran Home Repair and
Modification Program with Veterans in HFHBMC’s coverage area who may need assistance.
An intake form is required to determine eligibility.
Find the form online here or contact the team at email@example.com or 856-441-2707.
Focus on Marketing & Branding & more in April!
FREE Career Info and Events fromPhiladelphia Area Great Careers Group
Beating the Applicant Tracking System (a Veterans-only event!) – Tuesday, April 6, 7-8:30 p.m.
With Lynne Williams. Live-streamed for veterans who are part of https://www.facebook.com/ACTNOWEDUCATION/
(Topics will be repeated again on 4/20 and 4/21 with other groups if you can’t make it).
The Executive Edge: How to Get Your Ideal Job Faster – Thursday, April 8, 2:30-4 p.m. with With Johnny Walker from the UK – participants will receive a 50-page e-Book http://bit.ly/PAGCGSpecialEvents
Optimize Your Resume DOs and DON’Ts – Monday, April 12, 6-8 p.m.
With Ed Samuel and chapter leader Ken Sher. Requires Free Library registration: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/calendar/event/104904
What’s Your Shtick? Personal Branding Online & Off – Wednesday, April 14, 6-8:30 p.m.
With Lynne Williams from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by networking until 8:30 p.m. with chapter leader Bob Wood. Required registration http://bit.ly/PAGCG2ndWed
How to Master Presentations Online Lunch & Learn – Friday, April 16, noon to 12:30 p.m.
With Brenden Kumarasamy and Lynne Williams. Register at http://bit.ly/PAGCGSpecialEvents
Crafting a Memorable Career Brand – Monday, April 26, 9-11 a.m.
With Jeff Rothman and chapter leader Kevin Keene. Register at http://bit.ly/MalvernMon9a
Career Branding Phrases That Will Get You Hired – Tuesday, April 27, 9-11 a.m.
With Marti Konstant and chapter leader Drew Braun. Register at http://bit.ly/KoPTue9a
Want to catapult your career in the legal cannabis industry? – Thursday, April 29, 12-1:15 p.m.
With Karen Meshkov hosted by Lynne Williams. Register at http://bit.ly/PAGCGSpecialEvents
See many more events, including LinkedIn workshops, at https://greatcareersphl.org/events! Any meeting with a $5 fee is free for Veterans by arranging with Lynne in advance that you want to attend – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heroic Gardens Helps Veterans Connect with Nature
DVVC member organization Heroic Gardens offers free plant-based activities as well as yard transformations to Veterans who qualify.
Volunteer for a 2021 Spring Clean Up Event at https://heroicgardens.org/
Drop Off Items for Military Support Group Care Packages
Military Support Group of NJ is hosting a drop-off collection event for care package and grocery items, as well as donations to offset shipping costs to deployed service members.
Drop off items on Thursday, April 8, 4 – 6 p.m., at American Legion Post 281 Stetser-Lamartine, Chews Landing Rd & Black Horse Pike, Blackwood, NJ. See this link for a list of items requested.
Chapel of the Four Chaplains News & Events
Capital Region Nordic Alliance is coming to the Navy Yard
Capital Region Nordic Alliance (CRNA) and the Chapel of Four Chaplains will be hosting the OUSA-CRNA Trail Orienteering National Championship at the Navy Yard on Armed Forces Day weekend, in conjunction with the Chapel’s 70th Anniversary activities on May 15, 2021.
CRNA is an outdoor recreation alliance that seeks to provide opportunities for residents of the greater capital region and beyond to engage in Nordic sports on a year-round basis. CRNA serves the entire community with particular emphasis on Veterans, adults and youth with special needs or disabilities (physical, intellectual and visual). CRNA is focused on positive self-identity, recalibration, esteem, health and wellness of all who participate.
Free to all Veterans to participate. See the CRNA event website for details.
Veteran Chats Continue! Always great conversation.
Tuesdays at 10 a.m.
“Captain Lou” and the Chapel continue to co-host this regular chat group with the Thank-A-Vet organization. All are welcome – especially Veterans seeking engagement.
Join the Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82280991414
Meeting ID: 822 8099 1414 – Passcode: 072814 – or dial in by mobile phone: 301-715-8592.
For information on Chapel events, contact Bill Kaemmer, Executive Director, Chapel of Four Chaplains at 515-554-4836 or email@example.com.
**Medical Center Vaccine Efforts
As a result of the SAVE LIVES Act, signed into law by President Biden, VA medical centers around the country have been given the expanded charge of vaccinating all Veterans who served in the military, their spouses and caregivers against the Covid-19 virus.
For complete details, click here.
**Priorities for the new Secretary
In episode 235 of the VA Borne the Battle podcast, incoming VA Secretary Denis McDonough touches on his vision for Community Care, his priorities when improving the VA health care system, ensuring every Veteran gets a COVID vaccine in a timely fashion, and more. Listen here.
Upcoming VA Virtual Events
Don’t miss the many virtual hiring events coming up, including these two on April 8, sponsored by VA partner organizations:
- Philadelphia Virtual Career Fair for Veterans – Thursday, Apr 8, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Online recruiting event open to all US military job seekers and spouses.
Registration required; see the website here.
- Opportunities in Solar Energy – Thursday, Apr 8, 1 – 3 p.m.
Military community job seekers from around the globe will meet, network, and interview with employers for solar positions in trades and sales roles at this interactive virtual hiring event.
Registration required; see the website here.
There are many great events this month, from Bunker Bingo to a Make and Take Woodwork Workshop! See the entire list at https://www.va.gov/outreach-and-events/events/
AND IN OTHER NEWS…
Premium Reductions Coming for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance
Veterans insured under Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) will receive an average 7% reduction in premiums effective April 1, ensuring that VGLI remains a cost-effective option for Veterans and transitioning service members. Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA is temporarily extending the application deadlines for VGLI by an additional 90 days beyond the initial 240-day period following service; this extension will remain in effect until June 2021.
Final Review of Proposed Settlement Agreement in Civil Case, Kennedy vs. McCarthy
A class action lawsuit has resulted in a proposed Settlement Agreement that may affect certain Army veterans who were denied upgrades of their discharge characterizations. Class members had the opportunity to comment on the terms of the agreement in a fairness hearing on March 24; the agreement is expected to be finalized shortly. Under the proposed agreement, the Army will automatically reconsider certain discharge-status-upgrade decisions made by the Army Discharge Review Board since April 17, 2011, that partially or fully denied relief to Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans with less-than-fully-honorable discharges. The settlement also expands reapplication rights for applicants who received an adverse ADRB decision between Oct. 7, 2001, and April 16, 2011. Learn more here; see the documents at the top under Notice.
Department of Defense revises several Force Health Protection measures
In line with recent updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense has revised several Force Health Protection measures. The measures include guidance on quarantine and testing for DOD personnel and close contacts who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, deployment and redeployment guidance, reaffirmation of DOD mask use, and additional updated guidance focusing on protecting all DOD personnel.
This newsletter serves DVVC member organizations by providing information to share with Veterans. Member organizations can also use our LinkedIn group, https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12177627/ and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/dvvcorg, to get the word out! Let us know how we can help!
Do you have news to share or upcoming events? Send an email to the editor, Mo Gillen, at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 25th of the month. Send DVVC questions to email@example.com
News from the Executive Committee
When you look at the list of member organizations of DVVC – which now number over 130 – the variety of Veteran service missions stands out. Our community is not uniform in the services it requires, and the many different agencies address that abundance.
Soon after my wife and I arrived here eleven years ago, I became acquainted with DVVC and found opportunities to volunteer. Next, I connected with GPVN for help with employment. Now as a representative of Saint Joseph’s University, I am among the higher education members.
Our DVVC member and supporting organizations address Veterans’ physical and mental health, career development, fitness and wellness, housing, legal needs, recovery, social and professional networking, and small business support. Some groups support individual Veterans; others advocate for Veteran causes. Member organizations are national, regional and local; VA, DOD, State and local governments participate. The common link between us all is the audience we serve: those who have served. DVVC assists member organizations to raise their visibility with Veterans; our fellow members amplify your outreach efforts.
Here on Hawk Hill, the Office of Veterans Services keeps SJU’s student Veterans aware of the career and networking opportunities DVVC member organizations provide, as well as options for community service and updates on Veteran support from VA, state and local agencies. SJU’s entrepreneurship training provides a path to success for aspiring Veteran small business owners, and this kind of connectivity to the Veteran community can pay off in big ways.
The next DVVC quarterly meeting will provide our state legislators the opportunity to update us on the current legislative priorities affecting Veterans. We will hear from New Jersey and Pennsylvania officials, and there will be time for questions. Be sure to join us on Friday, April 16 at 8:45 am.
Member and supporting organizations will be hearing from DVVC committee members shortly as we follow up on the debut of our new website, working to ensure you’re aware of what DVVC membership provides.
It’s a pleasure to work shoulder to shoulder with you on behalf of the region’s Veterans. Thank you for your support of this vibrant group.
Director, Office of Veterans Services
Saint Joseph’s University