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Political Boot Camp for Veterans

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Did you know that thirty-one out of forty-five United States Presidents have served in the Armed Forces? An unprecedented number of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are seeking state and federal elected offices.  While the number of United States senators with war experience in both conflicts will be relatively the same, a surge has taken place for both parties in the United States House of Representatives.

Both political parties have encouraged veterans to run for Congress.  As the number of military personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq decreases, more veterans are funning for office because they want to continue to serve their country.  Additionally, efforts to recruit, train and support veteran candidates has moved from ad hoc initiatives to more formalized support.

Veterans are very attractive candidates to voters as well.  They tend to be more pragmatic and their military experience of mission accomplishment, teamwork, service above self, and nation over faction appeal to voters tired of constant bickering in Washington, D.C.

If you’re a veteran looking to run for a political office, you may have found the barriers of entry to be incredibly high. But there is hope on the horizon.

In part made possible by a grant from JP Morgan Chase & Co., Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the Maxwell School are collaborating to introduce a new and innovative program for veterans and military family members who aspire to public office or another form of a political career.

The goal of the “Veterans in Politics” (VIP) program is to act on the opportunity to continue public service demonstrated by those who have served in our nation’s military.

“The IVMF’s deep involvement, understanding and engagement with the veteran and military-connected community, coupled with the Maxwell School’s standing as the nation’s  No. 1 ranked school of public affairs, positions this program to empower those who have served our nation in uniform with preparation, expertise and confidence so that they can extend their commitment to public service in the form of a political career at the local, state or federal level,” said David M. Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School

The VIP program will enroll its inaugural class in late 2019. The program will feature both online coursework and a one-week intensive residency.  VIP curriculum will cover election law; party politics and public policy; creating, managing and leading campaign teams; campaign finance; understanding voters; message development; mobilizing volunteer teams; responding to citizen issues; and conflict management, among others topics.

To request more information about the VIP program, visit www.maxwell.syr.edu/veterans-in-politics.

 

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA.

By Debbie Gregory.

An innovative entrepreneurship training program called Apex at New York University offers military veterans, DoD affiliates and their spouses the support and resources they need to start and grow high-impact companies. And because doesn’t take equity, founders can guide their startups in the way that works best for their company.

In addition to providing free office space, mentoring and networking opportunities, the year-long program is now offering free housing to qualifying founders who are relocating to New York City, in shared apartments at Fort Hamilton Army Base, Brooklyn.

“We call it Apex because we want you to leave that program in a higher and better place than when you started,” said James Hendon, director of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab, home to Apex and other veteran-specific training programs. Hendon, himself a veteran entrepreneur, was one of the first to attend the lab’s veteran-specific training.

“There are certain … skills that you bring from your military service,” such as discipline, integrity and a “never quit ethos”, Hendon said.

Unlike co-working spaces of non-curated companies and individuals, the Veterans Future Lab offers a community of military veterans and their spouses who are invested in each other’s success.

Additionally, startups in the program receive valuable perks such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform credits, PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting, and tools from partners such as IBM and Nvidia.

Companies enrolled in Apex can also apply for Start-Up NY, a state incentive that grants tax-free status to startups participating in the APEX program.

Apex grew out of a 12-week training program for veteran entrepreneurs that started in 2015, according to Kurt Becker, Tandon’s vice dean for research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Applications are open through April 7th for the next round of Apex, which will start in July and run through the following summer.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

Electric Therapy Shows Promise in PTSD Treatment

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By Debbie Gregory.

Hundreds of veterans have found improvement for their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and mental disorders through an experimental new electric therapy treatment.

Former U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel have received the treatment at the Newport Brain Research Laboratory, located at the Brain Treatment Center in San Diego, California.

Dr. Erik Won is the president and CEO of the Newport Brain Research Laboratory, the company that has developed the treatment called Magnetic EEG/ECG-guided Resonant Therapy (MeRT).

Former Navy SEALS represent the perfect test group for the experimental brain treatment. They enter the service in superb health and then embark on a course of training that heightens mental and physical strength and alertness. But due to their close range exposure to explosives, they often suffer from Persistent Post-Concussion Symptoms and PTSD

With ongoing FDA clinical trials to judge the efficacy and risks of MeRT, the technique could provide an alternative treatment for debilitating headaches, inability to concentrate, memory problems, depression, anxiety, anger, aggressiveness, attention deficit and difficulty sleeping.

Won’s therapy is administered by placing a flashlight-sized device near the skull and inducing an electromagnetic field that sends a small burst of current to the brain. Over the course of 20 minutes, the device is moved around the cranium, delivering jolts that, at their most aggressive, feel like a firm finger tapping.

Won, a former U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon, and his team have treated more than 650 veterans using MeRT. The therapy has shown big improvements in test subjects who have participated in the course of therapy that runs for five days a week, for about four weeks.

“It’s certainly not a panacea,” said Won. But he believes that MeRT could be used to replace other therapies, including drug therapy.

“I think, in the future, there will be a discussion about whether this should be first-line management. What can we do to address the functional issues at play? There’s a whole lot of science to do before we get there,” he said.

By Debbie Gregory.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) periodically issues a volume of options that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues. In December, the CBO published its list of 121 options to combat the projected $1 trillion federal deficit this year, among them three suggestions on TRICARE and six that address veterans’ benefits.

In its most recent volume, entitled “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028”, the CBO suggested raising TRICARE enrollment fees for military retirees, instituting enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life and reducing veterans’ benefits.

The publication marks the fourth time in five years that the CBO has suggested raising TRICARE enrollment fees for working-age retirees and introducing minimum out-of-pocket expenses for those using TRICARE for Life.

In order to save nearly $12 billion, CBO suggested increasing TRICARE enrollment fees, deductibles and co-payments for working-age military retirees.

“Beneficiaries with individual coverage would pay $650 annually to enroll in TRICARE Prime. The annual cost of family enrollment would be $1,300,” the report stated. “All beneficiaries who enroll in TRICARE Select would pay an annual enrollment fee of $485 for individual coverage and $970 for a family.”

The CBO also suggested instituting enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life, the program that serves as supplemental coverage for military retirees on Medicare. Analysts estimated that the Defense Department could save $12 billion between 2021 and 2028.

According to CBO analysts, these options would reduce the financial burden of TRICARE for Life to the DoD in two ways: It would cut the government’s share by the amount of fees collected and indirectly would save money by causing some patients to forgo TRICARE for Life altogether, either by buying a private Medicare supplement or simply going without one.

According to the CBO, the Department of Veterans Affairs also presents several opportunities for cost-savings measures, including tightening up disability compensation requirements and disallowing benefits for arteriosclerotic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Crohn’s disease, hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and uterine fibroids. Additionally, the CBO recommends discontinuing the VA’s individual employability payments, reducing disability benefits to veterans older than 67 who are receiving Social Security payments, and eliminating disability compensation for veterans with disability rates below 30 percent.

The CBO also recommended making VA disability payments taxable income.

To all of the above, we say NO! Veterans have earned their benefits, and those benefits should be off the table.

Establishing Business Credit for the First Time

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By Debbie Gregory.

Establishing business credit is an important step for any new business. Business credit allows a company to borrow money that can be used to purchase products or services.

Having a business credit history separate from a personal one minimizes the effect negative events on one might have on the other. For example, financial missteps that impact personal credit history and score wouldn’t impact the business credit if there is a clear separation, and vice versa. Setting up a separate legal entity, such as a limited liability company or corporation also provides protection of personal assets.

The first step is to structure your business as a separate legal entity.

Next, obtain a federal tax identification number (EIN). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business.

Open a business checking account in the legal business name. Once open, be sure to pay the financial transactions of the business from that account. Apply for and use a business credit card, and be sure to pay the credit card bill from your business checking account.

Open a business credit file with all three business reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It’s important to closely monitor your business credit reports and scores on a regular basis to ensure the information reporting is accurate and up to date.

Establish a line of credit with vendors or suppliers. Work with at least five vendors and/or suppliers to create credit for your company to use when purchasing with them. Ask them to report your payment history to the credit reporting agencies.

Most importantly, be sure to pay your bills on time. Just like with your personal credit, late payments will negatively impact your business credit.

By establishing business credit; banks, lenders, suppliers, retailers, insurers and investors will now be able to better access the viability and creditworthiness of your business. Ultimately, your business credit report will impact the amount of credit, payment terms, interest rates and insurance premiums your business will pay.

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