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This is an area that is possibly underutilized in America today. Working for VA, I see incredible Americans, both Veteran and non-Veteran, volunteering their time and talents at VA facilities Nationwide. Before my employment with VA, I never realized just how much is achieved by volunteers. I am sure this holds true for many industries, but it is especially true in health care settings. There are individuals and groups alike that provide time, services, and materials to assist their fellow man. Without these volunteers, our nation may very well stand still.

Another benefit to volunteering is that a person has opportunities to socialize and network, learn new skills, and experience a variety of different occupations. Networking is a critical step in the job search. What better way to meet new contacts and hiring managers than at their own workplace? While you are giving of your time, you very well may meet your next supervisor!

If volunteering is not realistic for you right now, then seek out a part-time position. Many small business owners can use a helping hand from time to time. Before this position, I assisted a friend of mine with installing security alarms. While I learned that I am not as young as I once was, I spent many hours with a small-business owner who provided me with great advice, networking, and support during a transitional period. There is nothing like two hours in a hot Texas attic with someone to get them talking about interview tips for an office job.

The key is to use your time wisely. Not only will you gain experiences and networking opportunities, but you will also be off the couch moving forward. I read this awesome story last night about Mr. T and how his attitude and willingness to try several things ended up providing him a great career. Before the military, he did not complete goals; after the Army, he never quit!

I encourage you to take practical steps to organize and ignite your career search. Whether you are seeking a new job or a better one, you will succeed! The first test was qualifying for the military; that was no simple achievement. Next, we survived and earned the title of Veteran. Now, we continue to serve America and pave the way for Veterans that follow.

*This blog has been edited to reflect updated links and photos.

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Published on Sep. 9, 2016

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