Laying a Wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Laying a Wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Last week, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services was honored to join the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The invitation came from Frank Christensen, General President of the IUEC, who has been a friend for many years with his emphasis and leadership in veteran economic empowerment.

It was a special invitation because Frank knows how much respect we have for that space. He knew we would be proud to lay a wreath on behalf of the people with whom we served and for whom we now serve. For years, we have wandered the sacred paths of Arlington National Cemetery. It is our destination for peaceful reflection and solace. Stepping through the gates to these hallowed grounds gives us a feeling of comfort.

After the wreath laying, we spent the next few hours visiting Sections 7,13,15E, 30, 31,45, and 60. These sections are in very different parts of Arlington, allowing opportunity to reflect on the lives of those interned on our route.

Arlington is a special place for us, and being asked to join friends in a wreath laying at the Tomb is an honor. Standing at the top of the steps waiting for the ceremony, spending the day walking through the grounds and visiting specific graves, our thoughts and stories turn to all those who serve. Those thoughts turn to specific reflections shared with the nearly 20 family and friends who accompanied us.

These reflections include:

  • Inspiring Others to Action
  • Individual and Team Success
  • Leading by Example
  • Relationships and Trust
  • Indirect Versus Direct Leadership
  • Decisions-Making

Thanks to all of them for their leadership and to the IUEC for their commitment to those touched by military service.

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Fun Ways to Contribute to Our Mission

Fun Ways to Contribute to Our Mission

Together, we are Reaching America.  That isn’t just our tagline, it is a fact.  Every dollar that supports our work was donated by American patriots like you. Donations and support come in all shapes and sizes.  This coming weekend, September 17, our friends from the Great Falls, Virginia Rotary are hostingthe “Sean Plunkett Memorial Bocci Tournament” with proceeds benefiting our work at Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Services. This event is a family-friendly, ten-team bocci tournament and an offers an afternoon of fun enjoying the tournament, listening to music, and supporting Great Falls Rotary and Dixon Center. The event is on the 17th of September, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., on the Village Green in Great Falls, Virginia. The tournament honors the former memory of Great Falls Rotary Club President, Sean Plunkett. If you would you like to host an event benefiting Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Services  contact Vanessa Stergios, our Director of Development at vstergios@dixoncenter.org to learn more. 

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Task Force Movement & American Legion Conference

Task Force Movement & American Legion Conference

Dixon Center and other TFM-Trucking Partners at American Legion Conference in Milwaukee.
Dixon Center and other TFM-Trucking Partners at American Legion Conference in Milwaukee.

Several weeks ago, we introduced our readers to Task Force Movement: Life-Cycle Pathways for Veterans and Military into Trucking (TFM-Trucking), a coalition of veteran organizations, academia, and transportation companies with the mission to recruit transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans into the trucking industry. As a coalition and steering committee member, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services has been leading a series of convenings of military and veteran service organizations to both identify the barriers to entry for those from military-connected communities and also highlight solutions that are providing pathways into these high-paying careers.

At the recent American Legion Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Dixon Center along with other partners in TFM-Trucking shared some of our initial findings and engaged in discussions to turn these findings into actionable items that will create real impact for service members, veterans, and their families. Findings that include informing people about the opportunities in the trucking industry, but also informing employers about the potential and unique needs of service members, veterans, and their families.  Dixon Center is looking forward to sharing more with our supporters when the final report is published on Veterans Day this year.

At the conference Patrick Murphy, TFM Chairman, also announced the creation of Task Force Movement-Cyber Security. TFM-Cyber Security, similar to TFM-Trucking will pave the way to high-paying careers in cyber security.

Careers that will provide middle-class salaries, healthcare, and benefits along with recruiting talent into an industry that is becoming increasingly important to our national and economic security each year.

As with TFM-Trucking, Dixon Center will be taking a leading role to ensure that our transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans have a shot at this vital and growing industry.

Dixon Center shares initial findings at American Legion Conference.
Patrick Murphy announces the launch of Task Force Movement-Cyber Security.

Remember Not to Forget

Remember Not to Forget

The world changed after the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001.  Many of our service members and their families saw their realities swept away with the attack.  The era of routine deployments and a reasonably predictable battle rhythm was destroyed and replaced by two decades of intense sacrifice and chaos both on deployment and on the Homefront.

Today, many of our service members were not even born when 9/11 occurred.  They still live in the environment brought forth from the attacks but for many it is a memory shared digitally through news stories every anniversary of the attack. Do you remember where you were on that awful day?

Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services asks you to remember. Remember that day and the actions taken by our brave men and women to counter that threat and ensure that our nation was protected. Our military and first responders amazed the world by their actions and dedication and continue to do so today.
 
Challenges remain for some of our veterans and family members that struggle with their reintegration into local communities after exposure to the vileness of warfare. Dixon Center works with organizations that provide services in these communities to address the unique challenges facing these veterans and their families.
 
If you would like to learn more about Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services work with organizations assisting Post 9/11 veterans and their families contact our President, Col. Duncan Milne, USMC(Ret.) at dmilne@dixoncenter.org.

 

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Heal with Honor Update

Heal with Honor Update

An Update on how Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services is helping Veterans and their Families Heal with Honor.On August 10, 2022, 5 million veterans became eligible for benefits and increased services from the VA when the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act was signed into law.

This is what it means to impact the lives of veterans and their families and is but one example of Dixon Center’s work under our focus area, Heal with Honor—developing solutions that focus on the eight dimensions of wellness: mental, physical, social, environmental, occupational, spiritual, intellectual, and financial; ensuring that veterans and their families not only survive, but thrive.

In recent months, along with working with other partners in passing groundbreaking legislation, like the PACT Act, Dixon Center: has placed a spotlight on the importance of wellness during the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s GotYour6 Summit in New York City; led a convening of organizations who are partnering with Easterseals Greater Houston in delivering wellness services to veterans and their families throughout southeastern Texas; successfully advocated for keeping open a vital VA medical center in western Massachusetts; and assisted organizations develop proposals to Mission Daybreak, the VA’s program to develop suicide prevention solutions that meet the diverse needs of veterans.

Our emphasis is on the positive. We are working with organizations able to support veterans heal with honor. We partner with local and national organizations to help them find and focus on the overall well-being of veterans and their families. We help them develop programs that work, making them even more impactful.Deploying influence, ideas, and actions, we assist those organizations scale their impact and ensure that the right services reach veterans and their families at the right time.To learn more about increasing impact and assisting veterans Heal with Honor, please contact Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst, VP, Programs & Services, at swhitehurst@dixoncenter.org.

 

Photo One: Rosie Torres, Burn Pits 360, at a press conference supporting veterans exposed to burn pits.

Photo Two: COL (R) Sam Whitehurst, Dixon Center, at the GY6 Summit.

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Working Together for Our Veterans

Working Together for Our Veterans

At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services we work with thousands of organizations and individuals nationwide who assist with our noble purpose of making the lives of our veterans and their families better.
 
One of the most impactful organizations we work with is our very own, The Fedcap Group, and its array of top-tier nonprofit agencies dedicated to advancing the economic well-being of people with barriers. Dixon Center works every day with the companies of The Fedcap Group to help them integrate veterans and their families into their vast offering of capabilities focused on knocking down economic barriers.

Just recently we focused efforts on helping Fedcap Serving Maine stand up their new organization, Veterans Forward, an organization designed to provide critical assistance to create a sustainable future for Maine’s veterans, service members and their families.
 
Dixon Center continues to work with Community Work Services to assist in the integration of veterans of the Boston area into their programs so that veterans may gain a level of economic security and opportunity.
 
These are just a few examples of how Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services works across The Fedcap Group to ensure that veterans and their families can succeed in the communities where they live.  If you would like to learn more about our work within The Fedcap Group or with other organizations across the nation, contact our President, Retired Marine Colonel, Duncan S. Milne at dmilne@dixoncenter.org.

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Donors Share in 10 Years by Continuing Commitments

Donors Share in 10 Years by Continuing Commitments

Together, we are Reaching America.  On July 13, 2012, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services celebrated 10 years of live-changing operations and programming.  

Our donors responded to this celebration with their continued commitment to our Nation’s veterans and military families. Their gifts and investments enabled our ability to impact more than 2.4 million individuals and organizations. Dixon Center is thankful to all those who made a commitment to continue to increase their impact on the future for the Nation’s veterans and military families. Want to have an impact on our next ten years? You can. Your generous, tax deductible donation to Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services is making a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families.

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Creating Work with Purpose!

Creating Work with Purpose!

“As they proved during the pandemic and as they prove every day, utility workers are indispensable to our economy and our national security.”

James T. Slevin, National President, Utility Workers Union of America.

Positive outcomes for veterans and their families start with careers that provide purpose and recognize the experience and skills developed during their military service: careers that pay wages and salaries and provide benefits, that not only allow veterans to support themselves and their families, but to plan for and invest in their future; careers that provide affordable healthcare; and careers that offer advancement into positions of increasing responsibilities.

The Utility Workers Military Assistace Program (UMAP), part of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), is laser-focused on achieveing that goal for our veterans and their families by creating a pathway into an industry that is critical to strengthening our economy and vital to our national security. Even during the height of the pandemic, UWUA members were in the “trenches”, ensuring that people had access to clean water, electricy, and heat. UMAP is also taking the lead in  renewable energy and wind power and creating opportunities for veterans in these emerging industries.

And it’s about creating a culture based on the ideas of brotherhood and sisterhood. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with members of UWUA Local 18007 in Chicago. As I watched the members interact with each other, it reminded me of being around an infantry rifle squad in Afghanistan or Iraq—the camaraderie, the strong bonds, and the sense that you know that someone always has your back. This is why the 1,000+ veterans that have graduated the UMAP program are thriving.

Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services has been partnered with UMAP from the beginning, providing influence, ideas, and actions that have enhanced and increased the capacity of this successful program.

If you are an organization that wants to learn more about our work with the UWUA and creating work with purpose for veterans, contact Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst at swhitehurst@dixoncenter.org.

*Far right image: Col (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst, VP, Programs & Services, Dixon Center, speaks at UWUA Region IV Conference 

*Far left image: Rick Passarelli, Director, Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development, UWUA, updates members on UMAP

UWUA Region IV Conference, 11-13 August 2022

Veterans Forward-Communities Assisting Veterans, Maine Edition

Veterans Forward-Communities Assisting Veterans, Maine Edition

Maine is a big state with a small population, but it is blessed with one of the highest per capita population of veterans of any state in the union. The rural nature of the state and distances required to travel create challenges when it comes to access to services and supports for veterans of the Pine Tree State. With the assistance of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, Veterans Forward has been created by Fedcap Serving Maine. Veterans Forward provides veterans, service members, and their families critically needed support in emergency situations such as housing, substance use treatment, home heating assistance, food and clothing, and job training across the state of Maine.

Veterans Forward couldn’t have arrived at a more critical time.  The challenge of living on a fixed income forces many of our veterans to make hard choices between food, fuel, and medical care.

It is Summer now but with Winter always just around the corner in Maine, these choices can have real life and death considerations. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services stands at the ready to help organizations like Veterans Forward in Maine and those like it across the nation assist veterans and their families so they can thrive in their communities.

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The PACT Act has passed!

The PACT Act has passed!

On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, the Senate passed historic legislation that will deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their long-overdue VA health care and benefits. Named in honor of a veteran who died because of toxic exposure during his military service, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act will ensure that 3,500,000 toxic-exposed and post 9/11 veterans recevie the treatment they have earned, establishes 31 new VA facilities across 19 states, and boosts VA’s claim processing capacity and strengthen’s VA’s workforce.

On Wednesday, August 10th, the PACT Act will become law when President Biden signs it in a special ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House.

If you are an organization that supports veterans and their families, or if you are a veteran and believe you may be eligible for treatment and support due to your exposure to environmental toxins (e.g. burn pits), you can learn more about the PACT Act at VA.gov/PACT or by calling the VA at 1-800-MyVA411.

The PACT Act will benefit millions of veterans and there are many individuals and organizations who have been instrumental in passing this transformative legislation. But there are two people who stand out in their commitment and perseverance, Rosie and Capt. (Ret.) Le Roy Torres from Burn Pits 360. They have been on the forefront of this issue for years and it is no overstatement to say that it would not have passed without their leadership.

Burn Pits 360 is emblematic of the partners that Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services works with across our three pillars of work, Work with Purpose, Heal with Honor, and Live with Hope.

Dixon Center looks forward to continuing to work with Rosie and Le Roy at Burn Pits 360 in our noble purpose making the lives of veterans and their families better.

It’s important that we understand what unemployment looks like for veterans, it is just as important to understand what underemployment looks like as well. Being in a job where you have far less responsibility than you had in the military and the leadership, teambuilding, and the ability to adapt that you developed in the military are not recognized, or may not be held in high regard. On top of that, the difference between what you are making in a minimum wage, entry-level job is tens of thousand dollars less than what you earned in the military.

Underemployment creates a downward spiral that leads to other issues—living paycheck to paycheck, loss of self-esteem, increased stress and anxiety, and barriers to accessing high-quality healthcare.

At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, our approach is to partner with organizations and programs who make countering veteran underemployment part of their core mission.

The United Association, a labor union that represents workers in the plumbing and pipefitting industries, is one of our partners and is a leader in creating opportunities for transitioning service members and their families. Through their Veterans in Piping program, an 18-week course that provides industry-recognized certifications in welding, fire sprinkler fitting, and HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration), service members are leaving the military with guaranteed employment, enrollment into a registered apprenticeship program, and a career that provides middle-class wages from the outset, healthcare, and benefits. Dixon Center assists in integrating service members and their families into the UA VIP program by introducing the service members to wellness programs, that assist with finding a home, financial counseling, physical and mental health support, legal services, and more.

The UA VIP program is directly attacking veteran underemployment and is the recipe for long-term success for service members once they depart the military. This partnership, which along with Dixon Center, also includes the Department of Defense, is making a real difference in the lives of veterans and their families.