Many of us have a passion for serving Veterans. For some, it's a true calling. That's what I saw in this week's guest, Randy Reeves, when we were conducting our interview.
Randy C. Reeves was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as the 6th Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs and was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 8, 2017. National Cemetery Administration has received exceptional marks in the past, and Under Secretary Reeves is committed to building on that.
About Under Secretary Reeves:
As Under Secretary, he leads 135 national cemeteries in providing dignified burial services for Veterans and eligible family members. His responsibilities include maintaining the cemeteries as national shrines; design and construction activities related to the establishment of new national cemeteries; overseeing memorial programs to honor the service of Veterans, including the provision of headstones, markers, medallions and Presidential Memorial Certificates; and administering federal grants to help states, territories and tribal governments establish Veterans cemeteries.
He shares stories from his time in the service, his transition out of the military, losing a close friend and how that keeps him inspired to serve Veterans.
It's interesting how long one can be aware of something before finally checking it out. I heard about Vet Tix a few years ago and appreciated the concept, but never looked into them. Finally, after interviewing their Chief Strategy Officer, Steven Weintraub, I decided to enroll and see what it was about. Through their system, I got tickets to a cool event at a local venue, and it only cost me a transaction fee. That's incredible.
Vet Tix started ten years ago and was inspired by Navy Veteran Michael Focareto when he attended the Super Bowl and noticed some unused seats. He wondered if unused seats at events could be distributed and donated to service members and Veterans interested in attending. Vet Tix was born.
Now, there are more than 720,000 users and at the time of this writing, they have nearly 1,000 events nationwide that Veterans can attend. The system is straight forward:
-Tickets are donated to Vet Tix.
-Normal events are open and first come first served.
-High demand events are distributed through a lottery system.
-The more you use Vet Tix, the more opportunities you have to submit into a lottery.
This system is beneficial for all involved. Ticket holders that cannot attend the event have a tax-deductible donation they can make, because Vet Tix is a 501(c)3, and they're assured their tickets will not go unused. Venues benefit because it helps get people to the event. End users benefits by getting tickets to events for little to no cost to them.
Steven Weintraub joins us to explain the ins and outs of Vet Tix, his role in the organization, and his service to our country in the Marine Corps.
This week's interview is with Michael Haynie. Michael is an Air Force Veteran, Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University, and Director of Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). He is also a professor of entrepreneurship.
IVMF is widely respected in the Veteran space and continues to grow each year. IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nation’s military veterans and their families.
Syracuse University has made student Veterans a priority and have graduated many top performing Veterans including Student Veteran of America's Jared Lyon.
Michael provides us a great insight into his military career, his tenure at Syracuse, Veterans in higher education, and Veteran entrepreneurship.
Suicide prevention and Veteran suicide is an important topic for us all. Secretary Shulkin and VA continue to make it a priority. Personally, I've been talking to people about this topic for several years, to include sharing my own suicide attempt. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk to a Veteran about mental and emotional health, I do not take the occasion for granted.
I was wandering a social event at the Military Influencers Conference when I met John Preston. John is a Marine Corps Veteran that is pursuing a career in music. He has struggled with PTSD, alcohol dependency, and suicidal behavior. His music is inspired by his emotional struggles, the passing of his father, his brother's suicide, and other events in his life.
John was nice enough to join me for an interview and shared his life from joining the military to where his career is now. This is a powerful episode and one you'll definitely want to listen to.
VA recently released a Welcome Kit that can guide Veterans to which benefits they may qualify for. What makes this product unique and refreshing is the guidance is based on the Veteran's stage of life. The road map starts with the moment you join the United States military and goes all the way to a Veteran's later years.
On today's Benefits Breakdown segment, Barbara Morton from the Veterans Experience Office explains the value the welcome kit has, how Veterans can receive a copy, and how Veterans can use it.
Back in October, I attended the Military Influencers Conference. While there, I met dozens of awesome and unique Veterans. During a social event, I was introduced to Josh Elledge. Josh is an expert on saving money and getting upgrades. He told me about a technique he uses with hotels that almost always produces a room upgrade. I was fascinated by his insight and his passion for what he knew.
When I returned home I followed up with my new contacts and did a little research on them. That's when I learned Josh had an initiative called upendPR. Between the savings and the public relations knowledge, I knew Josh could bring some unique insight to the podcast that few can. I hit him up and he happily agreed to an interview.
Josh tells us about his service in the Navy as a journalist stationed at Pearl Harbor. We learn about his transition and attending college. Then, he gives us the backstory on how he became a consumer expert and gives us some tips on how we can save on our grocery bill. All that, plus some professional PR talk.