(Part 2) Our team here at the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce has had a pretty incredible couple of weeks. We have two huge announcements to share with all of you -- this news will have a massive impact on veterans and military spouses throughout the state. Don't miss it!
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The WI Veterans Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses across Wisconsin.
On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.
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Intro/Outro Music: "Turn It Up" by Barry Dallas
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Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. It's your friendly neighborhood, Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce team. We've got myself, we've got our president and CEO, Saul Newton, and we've got Christian Thornton in the house. We're talking about some huge announcements that we have as a chamber. We have , uh, new programs, new funding, huge grant funding, new partnerships with other organizations to help veterans transition from service , uh, to the civilian workforce supply chains that we got all this really neat stuff that we're talking about that we're super excited about. So let's dive right in. I'm too excited. I don't wanna wait . I don't wanna waste any more time, so let's just dive right in. We're gonna , we're gonna dive in. We're gonna do it. We're gonna hurry up. We're gonna get there. We're gonna do it. We're gonna do that right now. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's per me audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of firstname.lastname@example.org .Speaker 2:
It's a mentality too , that you often see in , um , in other cultures as well. Um, I , I've done a lot of work overseas with, with Japanese , uh , uh, companies, and it, it's kind of a joke in, in some of those , uh , those areas that more work gets done over the dinner table or more work , uh , gets done outside of a business meeting, because you do have that informality, you have the, to speak a little bit more freely and ask those questions that you might not feel comfortable doing. So in a more formalized setting.Speaker 1:
Excellent. I think that's a great point. And, you know, I , I wouldn't have thought of that, but yeah, discussing pain points and best practices among other industry leaders and successful business owners. And I mean, I've seen that been a thousand times at these, at these networking events, which are only a portion of what we do throughout the year. Um, but , uh , another thing is, is I have seen literal five finger , five figure business deals go down handshake in and out. Good to go in front of my face at these chain , Amber musters . And I have seen relationships blossom that turned into six figure business deals and beyond right in front of our eyes at these musters . These are any, any serious professional, any serious business owner or entrepreneur will tell you that networking is super, super valuable. Like you can't , you cannot, you cannot downplay that. So just wanted to make sure that we, that we touched , uh , on that , uh, quick question, wounded warrior canines, appreciate you guys quite a bit. How, how would a nonprofit organization get a booth at your events? Uh, it's easy just , uh, when you see our events pop up on our website or through our social media, just click on, then if there's an opportunity for a booth, you can just click on that easy peasy, man. Uh, we are currently using event bright , uh, the , the event bright platform for our ticketing, but we are in the process of transitioning that we've, if you recall this last fall, we made a very long and arduous and painful transition from our old web platform to our new web platform. And one thing that it's included in that is we're able to then transition our events there. We've already transitioned our blog there. For the most part, our events will be able to go through that. Our ticketing will be able to go through that. And all of our , uh, our member support stuff will be able to go through that one website, which we're really excited about, but it's kind of a long drawn out process. So for now it's through event bright , you can also follow us there , uh , but eventually you'll be able to do it through our own kind of proprietary. And, you know, having these, these new resources now is something that frees us up. You know, me being the, the novice WebDev guy , uh, to be able to dive into making some of those changes , uh, that need to happen over a longer period of time. So I hope that answered your question. Um, I'm pretty sure that's good. Greg says, thank you. Pretty sure that's good. It's gonna be really hard for us to tell you how those, how the metrics are going to pan out right now. One because the funds haven't been received yet, and two, because our, our , our board of directors, which is an collection of very, very smart people and experienced professionals has not signed off on how those, I mean, that's part of the process. They, they, they meet and they sign off on, like, this goes here, this goes here, this goes here, this goes here. And then those metrics and benchmarks can be established. I mean, these are service oriented professionals who are dedicated to our same mission and our vision and our values who are volunteering their time to serve on this board that are going to, with a fine tooth comb in a very granular fashion decide where these things, where these, these new assets are gonna go and at what times, and then those metrics will be established. So , um, I , I hope you didn't feel like I was being evasive there in your question, Greg. Uh, but, but that is as much information as we can give at the second. And as time goes on, you better believe we're gonna be, as we always have been 100% transparent about every single of the process . And if any of you have any questions at any time, just throw 'em our way , that's easy peasy , uh , and do so publicly. Yeah , that's fine. Uh, I wanna talk about ETS, our other big announcement. We have another big announcement. Holy moly, Saul, what is ETS and what do we have to do with it? And what does it mean for the future of transitioning veterans getting employed in the great state of Wisconsin?Speaker 3:
Yeah, so it's been a , it's been a very , uh , momentous week for us. Uh, so with this, with this grant that we received , uh, we're able to better serve , uh , veteran business owners and entrepreneurs , uh, the other big announcement that we actually made last week, but , uh , uh , made a splash this week at our, at , at the , uh , Wisconsin veterans in the workforce summit that we hosted yesterday is we are partnering with , uh , an organization called Wisconsin veterans work, which is based in w in , in Milwaukee, but , uh, functions and has operations across the entire state of Wisconsin throughSpeaker 1:
Every corner of the state. Yeah , they're , they're everywhere.Speaker 3:
Uh, as well as the , uh, Wisconsin department of veterans affairs to bring to Wisconsin a national program that has already launched in about seven states called ETS sponsorship. ETS sponsorship is , uh , an , uh , an organization that was formed in partnership with the , uh, us department of veterans affairs, as well as the department of defense to sponsor service members through the transition process from military to civilian life foundational to the vet works , Wisconsin approach is a focus on the 12 months between leaving the military and reintegrating into the civilian community. Uh, a period of time that's actually known as the deadly gap. Um, and for those of us who have transitioned out of the military and back into civilian life, certainly not across the board, no , there's no such thing as a universal experience for every single service member or veteran, but many, many folks find that transition process to be very difficult , uh, with the , um , combined stresses of kind of a perceived loss of purpose , uh, geographic relocation, financial uncertainty, and sometimes underlying medical and psychological issues. Um, actually vet veterans going through that process, commits suicide at rates two times higher than civilians in the same age group. And so the pro the goal of this program is to set the conditions for service members , uh, to achieve purpose us and prosperity , uh, to reduce stress and risk, and to , uh, actually have kind of engaged relationships , uh, that empower them to be successful , uh, once they've left the military in return to, to civilian life. So the program is grounded in a personal relationship between a transitioning service member , uh, and a matched volunteer sponsor, living in the community where the future veteran will reside. Uh, service members are actually matched with those sponsors up to a year before they leave active duty, giving them all the time. They need to, to develop a plan for that transition and develop a strong, personal relationship with their sponsor, where they're actually going to be living. Once they leave the military, they remain with the program. The service member remains through , uh, with the program through , uh, their, their graduation, which takes place up to 12 months after leaving the military. Um, and so Wisconsin veterans network connects transitioning service members to sponsors , uh, as well as the , uh, essential resources and services and , and communities around the state that they need as well as their spouse and their families. So what we're doing is, is pro a soft landing with wraparound support, to every single transitioning service member as they come to to the state. Now, what makes the, what makes Wisconsin different is we are the only state in the country at this point, who is using this as a workforce development initiative. We know that one of the primary challenge is facing our, our business community and our overall economy is availability of talent. We could, we could get every single person in the state of Wisconsin, a job tomorrow, and there still would not be enough bodies available to fill the jobs that are, that are need to be filled by employers across the state. So we are being proactive about promoting Wisconsin to transitioning service members and saying, not only is this a place with great benefits, not only is this a place with great resources, but this is a place where you can be economically stable and find a fulfilling employment opportunity once you've left the military. And so our role is developing first, a, a , uh , a career and employment platform using AI in the most recent tech to match service members with employment opportunities , uh, that they can see , uh, that they , they can maintain their standard of, of living that they're not going to have to take a , a , a cut in pay or compensation or benefits. Uh, but we are also working directly with employers to make sure that they know what it , what the standard is to attract these folks look, unemployment is at the lowest rate it's ever been history of the state. And the unemployment rate for veterans is even lower. So employers are going to need to compete for this highly skilled labor force. And so what we're doing is saying, yes, you're gonna need to compete, but we will show you how to compete for those folks and connect with what I think is the best, most, highly skilled talent pool available. And that's about their families ,Speaker 1:
Right on it's exciting stuff. You know, the, the, you know, as you know, you have three people sitting in front of you who served active duty and who accordingly transitioned from active duty at differing points in their career, who, who transitioned honorably from service to the civilian world in the civilian workforce. And all three of us can tell you from personal experience that it is a, it is more than just acquiring a post-service job or a post-service gig. This is a holistic, complete upheaval of your whole life and your family's life. And it is a transition. There's not like you get a job, your tra your , your transitions over this is a , it's a process. It is a long drawn out holistic process. And we have seen in the people that we serve and support so many of these common threads, and I wish I would've known, or I wish I would've done, or I wish I could've, blah, blah, blah, blah , blah. But now for the first time, we have a unified place, a landing pad for all of these folks who are going to be transitioning and relocating, or coming back to our state to provide access to these holistic resources and education. So we won't have, so we don't have to worry about people fumbling around with you . I wish I would've known, and we can just get them the help that they need right away and get them on to live in their lives and putting that civilian camouflage on and reintegrating fully. It's a really exciting prospect. And it'sSpeaker 2:
Important too, to recognize that, you know, many folks have a , a misconception that this only affects the enlisted service people. Um , you know, it , there's, there's a lot of misconceptions out there. And again, I , it doesn't happen to everybody, but there's a lot of misconceptions that because you were enlisted, you only enlisted because you had no other opportunities available to you. You had no skills, you had no education, et cetera , et cetera . Obviously, particularly those of us who have served, we know that that's not true. Um, some of the smartest people I I've ever served with were enlisted personnel, but the transition , uh , problems that we encounter, or the difficulty in transition is not just limited to enlisted personnel. Uh , I have had countless conversations in the last 12 months , um , including, you know, speaking from personal experience where I was an officer, I've spoken to many officers who they go through the same thing, and it doesn't matter if you are, are an E three , an E six , an E eight, an oh five. It doesn't matter. You know, you were used to a certain lifestyle, certain way of doing things and, and making that transition to that civilian side can be difficult. And , and there's no shame in putting your hand up and saying, I don't know where to go. I don't know where to start. Um, you know, as I said before, we don't know what we don't know. And, and rather than full victim to that, this gives us an opportunity as a chamber to really put that information out there, to help people recognize what they don't know and capitalize on, on the opportunities that are available.Speaker 1:
I , I wanna , uh, just follow up on one thing that Christian said, which is not only is that transition process challenging a lot of times for certain risk members , but so often it's military spouses and military families that get overlooked in that process as well, because the service member is not the only one that's transitioning. Their entire family is transitioning right along with them . And a lot of times, as I mentioned, there's, there's geographic relocation. Um , we know that unemployment and under employment is a , a epidemic among military spouses who , uh, who are highly educated are even more educated than their civilian peers , uh , often have more real world experience. And yet as a, as a part of, of their, their service, they often see employment impacts and other. And so that's, I think what also really separates this program , uh, and our role in it is that we're not just focusing on the service matter , we're focusing on their entire family, spouses, children, et cetera .Speaker 1:
Absolutely. And Ben just had a great comment. Ben was a guest on our show, not too long ago, talking about , uh , veterans and tech and cybersecurity jobs and that kind of , uh , workforce pipeline Ben says larger issue at times, the civilian employers glossing over military experience, maybe thinking one for their service, but not actually taking the professional benefit into, or maybe thinking one for their service rather, but not actually taking the professional benefit into account. I mean, there's, there's a laundry list of, of soft and dip and non combat skills that every military member has in common or most military members will have in common. So that's a great, that's a great point point, Ben, and it kind of hearkens to what Christian was saying, you know, the, the, the prevailing mentality amongst non-military folks, at least when I was growing up was that you enlisted, if you didn't wanna go to college, you know, if you weren't educated and didn't have any of the prospects, you , you , you know, I'm sorry, but that narrative , uh, if , even if it was ever accurate is not accurate right now, it's just not, I mean, I was an instructor at enlisted, basic training for the air force. And I think probably 30 to 40% of the people going through basic training on the enlisted end had a degree or some college that , I mean, that's just the reality. Now it's the way the economy is. It's the way that these, these positions are , uh, being placed and, and the attractiveness of these positions and the opportunities that they afford people, you know, so, so we're, we're excited to talk about these issues and to continue to connect through these two big, exciting pieces of news. We are very excited to connect, transitioning veterans to local holistic boots on the ground, hands on support. We're excited to develop Wisconsin's workforce and fill those pipelines with TA with veteran talent and not only avoid unemployment, but underemployment, which is epidemic in the veteran community throughout the state. And we're excited to who expand our programs to help everyone's professional, economic, and business and entrepreneurial opportunities , uh, tenfold, a hundredfold. Now , uh, this is, if you , if you can't tell, we're very excited about this news , there's so much that we're gonna be able to do with it . It's good stuff. Um, so , uh, we we're , we're gonna have to round third and head on home here. Uh, closing thoughts, we'll start with Christian. Do you have anything you'd like to add, sir?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I, you know, I , I couldn't be more thrilled , um, getting this grant, you know, it was, we went through such a process to get it where we got vetted about a , you know, the programs that we offer, the services that we offer and, and being awarded this grant is, is just gonna open up so many opportunities , um, particularly in, in some of those harder to reach areas, you know, those, those more rural communities. Um, again, just a couple weeks ago, I was, I was up in central Wisconsin and, and ran inadvertently in into folks that , uh , just had so many questions and I'm just so excited and really looking forward to being able to have a much larger presence there and, and be a , a conduit for these questions and, and help people out. So they don't have to struggle, you know, the , the information, the services, the opportunities are there. We just have to bring the pieces together . And, and this is gonna go a long way to doing that.Speaker 1:
Does this mean that maybe, perhaps at some point in the future, we could have that's chamber staff in central Wisconsin? Never know , I don't know , like full time , like an office in central WisconsinSpeaker 2:
Never knowSpeaker 1:
SA what do you got closing thoughts?Speaker 3:
Look, I , I think that , I mean, the , these, these are huge transformative programs and opportunities , um, for us and for the communities that we serve. But , um, I , I think what, what I most want people to know is , um, that through these programs and everything else that we, we do and have done over the last five to six years, yes, we are dedicated to supporting veterans and service members and their families because it's the right thing to do because these folks serve their country because they sacrifice because , uh, they've, they've, you know, put their country first, but there's also, and I , I think more, even more importantly, the skills, the competencies, the experience that they develop, it's, it , it , it's not about doing something out of the goodness of our hearts. Everybody benefits when veterans and service members succeed. Our, our economy is strengthened. Our workforce is, is improved. Our communities are better places to live when we have more veterans in the state of Wisconsin. And those veterans and service members are , are empowered than then everybody, everybody benefits from that. And, and so these programs as, as big and impactful as we know that they, they can and, and will be , um, it's, it's really the veterans and the service members that are providing the service , uh, a as they always have , um , you know, they're, they're uniquely situated to really rise the tide for every single person living in the state. And so that, that's always been our mantra when veterans succeed , uh , Wisconsin succeeds. Uh, and so these programs are just kind of one more tool in the belt for us , uh, to make sure that that, that vision becomes reality.Speaker 1:
Yeah, it's a giant $2 million tool that we're gonna be able to club the economy over the head with good stuff. We're very excited about this. Thank you gentlemen, for, for , uh, for, for hopping on today, we have the whole crew and who knows the next time you see us, the whole crew might, I don't know, maybe there'll be more of us. I don't know. We'll see, but folks really exciting stuff. Uh, and, and again, as I mentioned earlier, if , uh , if you have any questions about this, we are, and have always been an open book. Uh, you know, we are a nonprofit organization. So I mean, we , you wanna see it, we got it. And so, but we're gonna be as transparent as we can throughout this process B throughout this pro process, rather , uh, to ensure that all of, you know, almost dollar for dollar where this stuff is going to be allocated. And like Greg mentioned earlier, what our metrics and measurements for success are, and we will continue to be forthcoming with that. We're gonna be double , we're gonna be tenfold forthcoming with that sort of stuff through our newsletter, through our website, through our various social media , uh, outlets. So , uh, with that in mind, I would tell you and encourage you look at that scrolling across the bottom there, link tree.com/w I that's chamber follow us on Instagram, follow us on Twitter, follow us on Facebook. If you're still doing the Facebook thing, I don't know who is, but Hey, guess what? We're on TikTok now. So give us a follow there. Why not? We're hip we're trendy. We do short form video, follow us on TikTok to see. So , and Christian doing the hot new dances that everybody's talking about. I'm J just kidding. I'm gonna get in trouble for saying that. Uh, I appreciate all of you tuning in , uh, upward and onward. All boats are gonna rise together. Uh , thank you all for your support. Uh, and you know, let's go do great things in Wisconsin. We'll see you next time. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward, brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit email@example.com . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you through .