Michael G. Sheppard

Famous Veterans Throughout History

We owe a large debt of gratitude to those who have served our country. While many who have served in the military now live quiet and unassuming lives, there are veterans who have gone on to make a big splash in business and in Hollywood.

Montel Williams

After graduating high school in 1974, Montel Williams enlisted in the Navy. Showing great skills in leadership, he eventually made his way to the US Naval Academy. Once he had graduated from the academy, Williams had a successful career as a cryptologist aboard multiple submarines. After his time in the military, Williams wanted to work with youth. His goal was to inspire them to reach their full potential. This is what eventually led him to create the Montel Williams Show.

Alan Alda

When you look at the face of Alan Alda, you most likely remember him as the loveable Hawkeye Pierce of the hit TV show M*A*S*H. However, most fans of this actor don’t know that he was actually a gunnery officer in the Korean War. Alda went on to have a very successful career in Hollywood writing, acting, and directing.

George Steinbrenner

If you are a Yankees fan, live in New York, or have watched the hit TV show Seinfeld, you have most likely heard the name, George Steinbrenner. After joining The American Shipbuilding Company, which was the family business, he amassed a fortune that would allow him to become the owner of the New York Yankees. After his purchase in 1973, the Yankees have won the world series more times than any other team in Major League Baseball history. Steinbrenner originally gained his knowledge of sports management as he helped manage Air Force sports teams during his time enlisted.

Fred Smith

In the shipping industry, there is almost no other name more well-known than Fed Ex. After only being home from a tour of duty in Vietnam for two years, Smith decided to start a shipping service that would allow customers to deliver products overnight. During the first night of service, only seven packages were shipped. It is rumored that out of those seven packages, only one was shipped on time.

These are just a few examples of the many veterans that came home to have major success. It is important to thank our veterans who put so much on the line to support us and our country. This Veterans Day, reach out to a veteran and show them your appreciation.

Originally published at on November 8, 2018.


Military Families Face New Obstacles

While November is National Veterans and Military Families Months and while a lot of vets and their families will be enjoying free meals and social media posts declaring solidarity with current and former armed service members. However, at this time, many families within the military community are experiencing undue hardships at this time. This is the purpose of an editorial published in about the struggles that military families are currently dealing with. Changes to the healthcare system for military families have thrown areas of coverage into doubt. Access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention is imperative for many veterans and their family members. Housing for Marines in Camp Lejeune for military members have suffered catastrophic damage, leaving families living in uninhabitable conditions.

The most sweeping change to military families is the new shifts in the infrastructure to the military’s system of healthcare, Tricare. Currently, Tricare is holding open enrollment until December 10th where families can examine and choose between two plans, Tricare Select and Tricare Prime. After enrollment is closed, whatever plans families have will be locked into place and only a “qualifying life event” such as the birth of a baby will allow a change in plans. This could lead to confusion in coverage at a time when healthcare coverage has become a prime concern nationally.

In conjunction with healthcare is quality mental health treatment. The stresses of military life can be overwhelming for both service members and their loved ones. The military has put programs in place to offset this. Their effort includes family life counselors that can help process stress factors in life as well as Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and Morale, Welfare, & Recreation (MWR) programs that build community and coping mechanisms. Nonetheless, suicide in the military remains a firm problem and, despite the National Defense Authorization Act mandating the tracking of family suicides in the military, actual data on the subject has yet to be published. This makes building effective prevention measures difficult.

Perhaps most alarmingly, Marines stationed in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune are under the thumb of a severe housing crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Following the storm, houses have been shown to be unsafe with water-damaged floors and broken ceilings. Mold and power outages abound within the on-base housing and the response to fix it by the manager of the privatized housing has been slow. Such issues with private housing on posts have been a military-wide problem as standard tenet protections often do not apply. These kinds of problems, the op-ed asserts, need to be rectified if the military is expected to give it all for their country.

Originally published at on October 25, 2018.

4 Reasons Why Employers Are Not Hiring Veterans

Leaving the military and adjusting to civilian life is difficult, and the process becomes even more so when vets struggle to find jobs. When making the transition, it’s helpful to understand why employers sometimes hesitate to hire veterans. Understanding the problem makes it much easier to find solutions for it.

Have the Right Skills

Military service builds confidence and leaves many soldiers believing that they can accomplish any task with the right training and practice. This may be true, but the military is one of the few employers willing to train personnel from scratch. Most private sector employers require their new hires to have the skills they need to hit the ground running. If a certain civilian job requires skill that the military didn’t impart, vets would do well to attend classes or training sessions before applying for the job.

Translate Those Skills

Even when vets have the right skills for a job, the employer may not recognize them when looking over his resume. People who haven’t served don’t understand many of the acronyms and terms used in the military. Vets need to translate military language into civilian speak. A good plan is to have a civilian read the vet’s resume to catch and correct any MOS or other references that could confuse a potential employer.

Overcome Stereotypes

Men and women come home from military service and smoothly transition back into civilian life every day. These men and women, however, are not the ones on the evening news. It’s only the troubled soldiers with untreated PTSD and other serious issues that people hear about. Unfortunately, this has led to the stereotype that returning vets are dangerous or mentally unstable. To combat this, vets should practice their interviewing skills in order to present a calm and logical demeanor. It’s okay to appear a bit laid back, as well. Many people believe that military service makes a person stiff and rigid. Point out that disciplined doesn’t mean unyielding.

Address the Elephant in the Room

Upon leaving full-time military duty, many vets continue to serve as reservists or guardsmen. This means future military time commitments and possible deployment, both of which sometimes concern potential employers. Vets should always truthfully acknowledge how much of a time commitment their future military service will require, but they can also point out the positives of that service. Employers who hire reservists and guardsmen are getting employees who actively cultivate their leadership skills while keeping other skills sharp and well practiced.

It may seem unfair, but vets do sometimes struggle to find civilian jobs after leaving the service. The key is to point out to employers the many benefits vets bring to the table and to keep on applying. It’s the vets who keep marching that ultimately reach their goal.

Originally published at on October 5, 2018.

Hurricane Florence Causes the VA to Struggle

Hurricane Florence has impacted many people throughout out the state of North Carolina. A group of veterans, many of them sick and disabled, began a return to the VA Medical Center in Hampton, Virginia on September 17th. The veterans were evacuated from the Medical Center to keep them safe from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

The situation was not as stable in North Carolina where the heavy rain from the storm resulted in many hospitals and clinics to remain closed. The VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina remained ‘isolated’ by flood waters and was planning to reopen on Wednesday. Officials note that each facility will only be reopened when it is safe for patients, their families, and staff to travel to and from the facilities.

The Veterans Administration took the precaution of closing five hospitals along with 18 clinics in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. These closings took place just ahead of the landfall of Florence on September 14.

The Veterans Administration says that approximately 1.5 million veterans and more than 28,000 employees of the VA live in the storm-affected area.

The VA announced before the storm that oxygen and energy supplies had been ‘topped off’ and all facilities possessed enough food items to last for two weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall. The VA also moved 217 ill veterans from the medical center in Hampton to medical centers in other parts of the state.

The VA also prepared mobile units to be ready once Florence passed to provide medical services to veterans in the region affected by the storm. It is not clear at this time when these mobile units will become active in North Carolina.

The aftermath of Hurricane Florence includes reports of 23 deaths attributed to the storm. News reports in the area report that the city of Wilmington, North Carolina has been effectively cut-off from the rest of the state by the storm.

Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina, said that the storm is slowly making its way across the state. The governor explains that the main worry at this time is the rising water that has accompanied the storm.

Governor Cooper explains that the rivers continue to rise with each inch of falling rain and that the flooding is expected to continue into next week. Cooper ends by saying that when all is said and done, the state of North Carolina could see flooding of historic proportions.

from Mike Sheppard

What to Do When Your Returning Veteran Won’t Talk to You

When our loved ones return from duty, it can be an exciting and emotional time. More often than not, we expect our loved ones to come back just as they were when they left. However, many families and friends find that when a veteran returns home, several things have changed. The most obvious of these changes is often a shift in communication with their veteran. While loved ones struggle to be supportive, it can be difficult knowing what to say to someone that doesn’t want to communicate.

Expect a Transition Period

The first step in fixing communication with a returning veteran is understanding where this breakdown in communication is coming from. For a veteran, the first few weeks and months of returning to civilian life can be a challenge on several levels. For some veterans, the transition may be easy, but for most that suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or military sexual trauma (MST), the return home can be anything but easy.

Understand the Change of Civilian Life

The world that a veteran returns to is very different than the one they left. This is particularly true when considering the highly structured nature of the military. While veterans dedicated their time to the military, friends and family moved on and may not be the same people they once were. As much as a veteran may want to fit into the life they once knew, it is virtually impossible.

Help Your Veteran Transition

The first priority is treating any mental or medical issues that the veteran may have. Then, it’s essential to find housing and employment. This can mean returning to school or beginning a new and rewarding career. Families and friends that are hoping to aid their veteran in more substantial ways can call a Vet Center to find out how to best care for their veteran.

Vet Centers are trained to help veterans adjust to their civilian lives. These centers help veterans access their benefits, as well as provide mental or medical health care. Similarly, Vet Centers can offer counseling and legal help, as well as find employment, housing, and other resources that are essential to a veteran transitioning back to civilian life.

If a returning veteran isn’t communicating, it is an outward manifestation of the challenges they are facing within. Don’t let a veteran suffer alone. With the right support and resources, returning veterans can successfully transition back into civilian life, working to create a new life for themselves and their families.

from Mike Sheppard

How Veterans Are Doing Their Part To Ease America’s Teacher Shortage

After veterans have served their country on the field of combat, many return home to serve in other ways: in the classroom, for example. Training the future minds of America to be thinkers and leaders can’t be understated. The experiences and skills that military veterans have acquired because of their service to the United States have proven invaluable in a classroom setting. Some of the things the veterans teach the youth of America include:

  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Understanding
  • Appreciation for diversity

Many schools have struggled to hire qualified educators, but veterans have stepped into the role to fill the gap. The experience veterans have had as leaders have turned them into excellent teachers and role models for young men and women. Lt. Col. Joseph Gross, a teacher of geography and world history at Southside High School in San Antonio, says that while every teacher tries to reach out to students to prepare them for the upcoming job market, an advantage comes from having military experience.

Engaging the Students

Some veterans believe that having an experience in the military has engaged students to ensure they keep an interest in the subject being taught. For example, Gross said that in his job for the military, he had to travel around Europe and Asia in places that most of the world will never see. This engages the classroom when veterans teach about ancient Roman history, and the teacher can show pictures of themselves at the location.

Controlling a Rowdy Classroom

Teachers have to control a rowdy classroom and military-level leadership has proven useful in doing this. 1st Sgt. Christopher Karayannis, a teacher at Thomas Edison High School, says that his military experience gave him confidence when in the classroom to keep things focused and under control.

Veterans also have the advantage of improving the retention rate because they tend to have more discipline than the average individual. That’s because the military teaches people how to have more discipline, and this carries over into all aspects of their life. The teacher shortage has been a dire problem, and many of the teachers in the classrooms today have less than 10 years of experience in teaching. This is the future of America and having veterans in the school system has proven an asset.

from Michael G. Sheppard

The Meaning Behind the Thirteen Folds of the American Flag

The American flag embodies the values and core beliefs that the United States was founded on. These cherished values are defended by the brave men and women of the Armed Services, who give some or all of their lives in service to their country. The flag is furnished to a departed veteran’s family in gratitude and as a tribute of respect.

Officially, there is no ceremony for the folding of the American flag; the ceremonial thirteen folds are made as a patriotic gesture of gratitude and in remembrance of the veteran who has passed on. While there is no official flag folding ceremony script either, many traditions have been passed down that have become “unofficially official” and imbue each of the folds with a meaning.

The First Fold: is made as a representation of life.

The Second Fold: is made as a symbol of our belief in life everlasting.

The Third Fold: is made in remembrance of the sacrifice of the veteran, who gave a portion of his life to defend the United States.

The Fourth Fold: is a symbol of our weak and imperfect nature, and our need to turn to God for His divine guidance — in times of peace and in times of war.

The Fifth Fold: is made in tribute to the United States of America.

The Sixth Fold: is our pledge of allegiance to our flag and country.

The Seventh Fold: is made in tribute to all of our Armed Service members and to honor their efforts to protect and defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Eighth Fold: is made in tribute and honor of the veteran’s mother.

The Ninth Fold: is made in honor of womanhood, whose love and loyalty has shaped the characters of the men and women who serve the United States.

The Tenth Fold: is made in tribute and honor of the veteran’s father.

The Eleventh Fold: is made as a symbol for members of the Jewish faith and brings to mind the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Twelfth Fold: is made as a symbol for members of Christian faiths brings to mind God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Thirteenth Fold: is made with the stars pointing upwards to remind us “In God We Trust”.

from Mike Sheppard

Walgreens Joins Forces With the VA

In a thoughtful and well-considered effort to remain competitive in the pharmacy game, retailer Walgreens has joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide servicemen and -women with more comprehensive care. The alliance dubbed the “VA-Walgreens Exchange,” will allow the VA doctors to view and manage their patients’ prescriptions when the orders are filled at Walgreens. This will help the physicians when it comes to tracking medical history and immunization records, thereby streamlining the process and making life easier for the veterans, as well as the doctors and pharmacists.

While the partnership serves to benefit veterans, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations Richard Ashworth hopes that it might be useful in stemming the tide of the opioid crisis as well. It’s essential for patients to receive the care that they need, and this includes safe and reliable access to prescription drugs; however, it’s just as important to track the dosages and ensure that the proper protocol is being followed. The system could also be useful in alleviating any potentially dangerous drug interactions.

According to sources at the VA, this alliance is not the department’s first collaboration with Walgreens. For the past five years, the pharmacy department has offered free flu shots to veterans, as well as a program designed to educate the population on the importance of timely vaccination. What the VA-Walgreens Exchange will do is free up valuable time, as the physicians will now have access to the prescription information without having to ask the patient about it during the examination. As anyone in the medical profession can attest, more time translates into more comprehensive patient care, and therefore better health overall.

With online giant Amazon’s recent acquisition of PillPack, a web-based pharmacy, stores like CVS and Walgreens are struggling to remain competitive. More and more consumers are turning to the Internet to serve an increasing variety of needs, which is enough to make any brick-and-mortar company feel the heat. Fortunately, the human connection is something that will always remain crucial when it comes to health care. That’s something that all of the competitors should bear in mind as they look into the future. With the VA-Walgreens Exchange, the retailer is protecting its own interests while working to provide a vital service to the nation’s veterans.

from Mike Sheppard

Veteran Groups Divide Over Stricter Transfer Rules For GI Bill

There is currently a rift among two of the largest Veteran’s Advocacy groups in the United States over proposed changes to the GI Bill which would put a cap on the time frame through which the family members of service men and women could take advantage of funds earmarked specifically for GI Bill spending. While there was previously no cap, the new rule would only allow service members who have served less than a total of 16 years to take advantage of the financial assistance. So what exactly is the GI Bill and who is arguing for and against this rule change?

  • What Is The GI Bill?
  • What Do The Two Sides Think About The New Rules?
  • What Portion Of The GI Bill Is Used For Service Family Members?

What Is The GI Bill?

The term GI-Bill actually refers to many different programs designed to help service members and their families continue their education at either a reduced or no cost at all. The specific GI Bill in question here is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This Bill provides up to 100% of the total cost of education for those who have served more than 90 days of active duty after the horrendous terrorist attack that occurred on September 11th, 2001.

What Do The Two Sides Think About The New Rules?

The two sides arguing for and against the proposed rules change are the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) and The American Legion. The American Legion argues that this is a benefit earned by all service members regardless of how long they have served. The VFW, on the other hand, states that the GI Bill’s transferable nature was always designed as a type of retention tool instead of a true benefit guaranteed to all service members.

What Portion Of The GI Bill Is Used For Service Family Members?

Currently, the GI Bill funds roughly twelve billion dollars in education expenses each year. Of this twelve billion dollars, roughly $1.8 billion was used to fund the educations of service member’s families. This equates to roughly fifteen percent of this large total. While the future of this proposed change to the rules is uncertain, it is certain that it will have a lasting impact on thousands of families across the United States regardless of the final ruling.

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from Mike Sheppard

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