By “veteran writers” I’m talking specifically about writers who are veterans of the United States Military, as opposed to writers who have a lot of experience in the business. There are a lot of us–myself included–who have time in uniform as part of our resumes, and it occurred to me that I’ve never posted any resources for us. It’s high time to correct that oversight, starting with this post.
For starters, if you’re writing about military topics, chances are good you already know about VA.Gov, the Department of Veterans Affairs official site. But did you know about Jane’s Defense Weekly? Consider Jane’s to be the opposite side of the coin. Where VA.gov caters specifically to the individual veteran and those still in uniform about benefits and related information, Jane’s is aimed at “big picture” military issues including hardware, technology, and related topics. You can get a LOT of source material and background info here.
USO.org is a natural for human-interest pieces and feature stories. Ever wonder what it’s like to go on a USO tour and entertain troops in a combat zone? You might just find a great story idea at the USO you could parlay into several good-paying freelance gigs with the right editor.
I personally have found plenty of good background, stats, and news on veteran’s hiring and employment issues at the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service official site.
These resources are great, but on a slightly more personal note:
Vets often leave the military and begin small businesses (like Freelance-Zone.com, for example) but need help when it comes to getting started, learning about funding the business, operating it in the early days and surviving the costs of a startup. I spent a lot of time before I left the military exploring sites like the Center For Veterans Enterprise, and the Office Of Veterans Business Development. These sites are quite valuable for developing your own business plans, but also for background on articles and web content that pertain to the same areas. I highly recommend them.
One of the most important documents a veteran possesses is the DD Form 214, the official record of separation from the military. A lot of people who want VA benefits like the GI Bill, VA home loans or VA health care find they have misplaced their DD214 (usually in a relocation from an overseas base back to the USA before retirement/separation). There are plenty of websites offering vets help in getting a replacement DD214–many of them charge a fee which is NOT needed. Vets can get their DD214 FOR FREE direct from the National Archives in St. Louis. (Transparency alert: I recently did some freelance work for DD214.com which has an extensive collection of information on the DD214 which is why it’s been on my mind and included here.)