NextOp Veterans Receives Donation From Shell

Houston, TX, November 1, 2018– NextOp, Inc. is pleased to announce it has received a generous $10,000 donation from Shell to support multiple programs including the 2018 Shell Petrochemical Industry Day. The overall goal and mission of NextOp is to recruit, train and place high-performing middle-enlisted military leaders into industry careers. This would not be possible without the assistance we receive from our corporate partners like Shell.

The NextOp Employment Program has placed over 1,420 veterans into industry careers since launching in March 2015. With this grant partnership, NextOp Veterans will be able to successfully guide more veterans through their post-military transition and place them into their next career. Shell’s investment will help us improve our military employment programs and continue our mission to help assist transitioning veterans into all industries, including the energy industry. In addition, the Shell Petrochemical Industry Day, inspires many veterans to look at 2-year educational opportunities that lead into great careers.

“Shell has been one of our best Partners since we started in 2015. Their commitment as a company to attract, recruit, retain and build military talent is truly special and should be a best practice across the industry. We are proud to have hosted two successful industry days with Shell and are excited to plan and execute more on November 15th in Texas with aspirations to execute one in Louisiana,” stated NextOp Executive Director John Boerstler.

Shell works to build strong relationships to improve the future of its communities. “Shell is proud to provide NextOp with the donation and support to execute programs that educate, empower and attract military service men and women to the energy industry and Shell,” says Scott Ballard, Executive Vice President, Human Resources North America.

About Shell

Shell Workforce Development and Diversity Outreach (WDDO) understand that vibrant and healthy communities create benefits in society for everyone. Public health, civic engagement and workforce development are a few key focus areas for WCSI Team. Together with national programs and community college partners, WCSI is looking to create economic opportunities, provide relief after natural disasters and increase the impact of volunteerism. For more information, visit,


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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Anna Bowers at (832) 735-0051 or email at [email protected]

Value of Veteran Recruiting Initiatives

Who are you?

John is Executive Director of NextOp, a non-profit organization whose mission is to recruit, train, and place high-performing mid-level enlisted military leaders into industry. John served in the United States Marine Corps from 1999-2007 as an infantry unit leader.  His overseas assignments include Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Djibouti, and Kenya.  In 2009 John helped found the Lone Star Veterans Association (LSVA), which has become the largest network of Post 9/11 veterans in Texas. In 2015, John worked with regional leaders to establish the Combined Arms network, a first of its kind community-based transition system built to accelerate the impact of veterans on Houston.

John holds a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Houston.  John is also a recipient of the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship, representing the United States in eight different European countries during a month-long fellowship. As a Marshall Fellow, John has also traveled to the United Kingdom, Israel and Denmark to write comparative papers on their military transition systems and is planning to travel to Ukraine in Spring 2017 to assist in the development of their military transition infrastructure.

What do you do at NextOp?

Mostly serve as the janitor but also work with the board of directors on passing an annual budget, approving policy, setting strategic vision and authoring of 3 year strategic plan for the organization.

Serve as the chief financial officer, programs officer, development officer (fundraising), and anything that helps build the brand with military installations, corporate partners, foundations, grant making institutions, our 3 advisory boards, mentor universe, strategic partners and generally anyone who will support our veterans!

Value of Veteran Recruiting Initiatives

The value of military and veteran recruiting initiatives not only impacts working culture, safety, productivity, team orientation, and respect within an organization, learning how to recruit, train, and retain veteran employees has proven to have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.  The Corporate Executive Board recently found that veteran employees not only have a lower turnover rate than their civilian counterparts, but also have a higher productivity rate.  So, veteran employees do not only save the company money but they make companies more money too!

We all know that veterans’ “soft skills” are the most sought after for companies such as showing up early, staying late, learning things faster, adapting to the mission, showing respect to supervisors, and working well in teams.  Veterans also come with significant hard skills too, depending on their MOS or military occupational specialty.  Although the military does not do a great job of providing civilian credentials for many of these learned skills, veterans may be able to test into mechanically and technically oriented positions right out of the military, they just need the chance to prove their value.

By developing a military or veteran recruiting initiative, companies can take advantage of these great opportunities to improve their workforce by attracting more military talent.  It does not have to cost a lot either.  For example, if you already have employees who are veterans, recruiting and hiring managers can activate them to attend job fairs, design military-specific marketing collateral and provide their perspective on how to best develop a veteran recruiting plan. HR professionals can also tap into expert military recruiting organizations like NextOp to source veteran candidates from regional bases and other marketing portals in the community.

There are many cost-effective solutions to recruit, train, and retain military employees into an organization such as insourcing and outsourcing – or a combination of both – to ensure your team is successful in taking advantage of America’s greatest human resource.


How to Find Key Words in Job Descriptions to Tailor Your Resume

Who are you?

My name is Jonathan Barreda and I am a Marine Veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Helmand Providence.

What do you do at NextOp?

At NextOp, I am one of the Employment Team Coordinators who works with the veterans to assist them in their search for employment in their desired industry.

How to Find Key Words in Job Descriptions to Tailor Resume

Having a resume that stands out when given to a recruiter can be challenging and confusing. I use the term confusing loosely because I can get an opinion from multiple people and still not have a clear direction of what should be included in the resume. Something else that can be challenging can be a special task that requires time and a selection process to pick out a job. I personally read the resume and either highlight repeated words that can be considered hard/soft skills and recommend that there is an emphasis on those specifically highlighted words. Rule of thumb is that if an employer is looking for a certain candidate they would expect the resume to answer all of the requirements on the resume itself.

There are some tools that I wish I would have known when I started my transition from the Marine Corps. The website can be a great asset because you can easily see what are the words that are mostly used in the job description and you can capitalize on explaining your accomplishments. Another source that I found very useful was O-net Online and that site helps you see what type of jobs would be closest related to your military specialty. At the end of the day, NextOp is here to assist in translating military experience to civilian terms.

Military Construction (MILCON) Summit

Join us at Fort Hood in April 2017!

Bringing skilled transitioning Soldiers and Construction Industry professionals together.


Military and construction industry experts will come together to highlight upcoming reductions in force, major issues impacting soldier transition into the construction industry, as well as provide direct networking opportunities for soldiers and construction professionals.

Organizations Speaking at MILCON

NextOp Veterans Jobs in Houston


NextOp recruits, trains, and places high-performing middle-enlisted military leaders into Industry careers.

NextOp provides companies with world-class, skilled candidates and coaches them on how to be effective employees. Our mentors work with each transitioning veteran to adjust to their new roles and cultivate the necessary skills to excel in field work, increasing satisfaction and reducing turnover for these positions. We serve those who have served so many—our hardworking veterans.

Speaker and Presentation

John Boerstler, Executive Director

NextOp Process  NextOp Process »

Veterans in Construction

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

ABC is a national construction industry trade association representing more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. ABC’s membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors.

Speaker and Presentation

Mike Glavin, ABC Workforce Policy Director

Construction Industry Workforce Data Construction Industry Workforce Data »


The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)

NCCER is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation created in 1996 as The National Center for Construction Education and Research. It was developed with the support of more than 125 construction CEOs and various association and academic leaders who united to revolutionize training for the construction industry. Sharing the common goal of developing a safe and productive workforce, these companies created a standardized training and credentialing program for the industry.

Speaker and Presentation

Mark Thomas, NCCER- Senior Manager, Programs NCCER

Construction Credentialing Programs for Engineering Soldiers & Officers Construction Credentialing for Soldiers »

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME)

The Society of American Military Engineers leads collaborative efforts to identify and resolve national security infrastructure-related challenges. Founded in 1920, SAME unites public and private sector individuals and organizations from across the architecture, engineering, construction, environmental and facility management, cyber security, project planning, contracting and acquisition, and related disciplines in support of national security.

Speaker and Presentation

Joe Schondrel, Executive Director SAME- Society of American Military Engineers

MSG Jason Parlor, US Army School of Engineering- NCCER Construction Credentialing Programs for Engineering Soldiers & Officers

The Soldier for Life- Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) Fort Hood, TX

The Soldier for Life — Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) is a centrally funded commanders program that provides transition assistance services to eligible Soldiers. Public Law is the foundation of the Transition Assistance Program initiative, along with DOD and Army policy.   SFL-TAP supports the Army’s Active Component recruiting effort by producing successful alumni. Those who are capable of translating Army skills, training, and experience into rewarding careers are living billboards promoting the Army as a great place to start.

Speaker and Presentation

LTC Jon Sowards, Soldier for Life Central Region Director

Permissive TDY Policies and Soldier Life Cycle  ARMY 101 »

Martin Traylor, Fort Hood SFL-TAP Transition Services Manager

Transition Assistance Program Transition Assistance Program »

Did you miss MILCON?

Don’t worry you can still register with NextOp

We will help you with your veteran hiring needs

Date and Time
Thu Apr 20, 2017
7:30 AM – 7:30 PM CDT
Fri. Apr 21, 2017
7:30 AM – 11:30 AM CDT
Texas A&M University Central
Warrior Hall, Multipurpose Room
1001 Leadership Place Killeen, TX 76549
Parking Map
Military Construction

NextOp Placements since 2015


Title Sponsor

AECOM is a global network of experts working with clients, communities and colleagues to develop and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most complex challenges. Delivering clean water and energy. Building iconic skyscrapers. Planning new cities. Restoring damaged environments. Connecting people and economies with roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems. Designing parks where children play. Helping governments maintain stability and security.

Installation Sponsor

Veterans in Construction

PCL Industrial Construction Co. is a diversified heavy industrial contractor, based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Houston, Texas, with extensive experience in the power, oil, gas, chemical, cement/aggregates, mining/minerals, and pulp and paper industries. An expansive project portfolio consists of work throughout the United States.

Soldier Social Sponsors

Turner Industries Veteran Friendly Employer
KBR Veteran Friendly Employer

Corps Sponsors

Performance Contractors Veteran Friendly Employer
Webber Veteran Friendly Employer
Jacobs Veteran Friendly Employer
Brock Group Veteran Friendly Employer

Protected: Vaughn Construction Hiring Initiative

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Combined Arms: Comparing Danish and American Military Transition Systems

John W. Boerstler

The War in Afghanistan has claimed many casualties for NATO ISAF forces, the majority coming from the United States and United Kingdom.  However, several smaller NATO member states have made significant troop contributions since the beginning of the mission.  The Kingdom of Denmark is one of these important partners, having contributed over 3,500 troops working in combat arms roles such as infantry, armor, engineers, medical support, and others that have been critical in engaging Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in some of the most treacherous regions like Helmand and Kandahar.  After preliminary research into the Danish participation in the Global War on Terror by engaging experts in Washington, DC, our Project Team discovered that the Danes have suffered the highest number of combat casualties per capita when compared to their fellow NATO troop contributors, according to the think tank Cooperation and Conflict.  Further research showed that the Danish soldiers who had served in Afghanistan are suffering from significantly lower levels of unemployment, homelessness, and suicide when compared to their American counterparts, according to studies conducted by Europe PubMed Central.  This information encouraged our team to conduct a comparative analysis of US and Danish military transition systems, with the support of the German Marshall Fund, Veterans Support Foundation, McKesson Foundation, and several NGO’s in Houston, Texas that will be mentioned later in this report.

Our goals were to learn more about the civilian reintegration process for Afghanistan veterans in Denmark and compare that to how American troops return to civilian life in Houston, Texas in an effort to learn from the Danish military transition system and apply lessons to improve our own comparable model at the community level.  Although 5,177 miles separate Houston and Denmark, the two share several important traits that made it easier to link instead of comparing the entire American system with that of Denmark, which is obviously much smaller and would produce skewed results.  For example, Denmark has an approximate population of 5.6 million people.  In comparison, the Greater Houston Area has approximately 6.2 million, which makes it easier to evaluate the community-based services offered for veterans living in both systems.  In contrast, Houston has a higher Afghanistan War veteran population, numbering around 10,000, according to the US Department of Affairs VetPop data by county, whereas Denmark has approximately 3,500 who have served in the same conflict. Despite the differences between the two, it’s much easier for our team to use Houston as a basis of comparison because of the overall population similarity and the fact that we have significant experience operating in the arena of military transition programming.  Because this project is only a cursory comparison of the two systems, our research methods were a combination of evaluating academic articles and conducting expert interviews in Houston, Ringsted, Slagelse, and Copenhagen.  Several assumptions were made about the major cultural differences between the Houston and Denmark that should be addressed before continuing to the findings.  Denmark has a substantial social welfare system that provides health care to its citizens, which soldiers have access to after leaving the military. Denmark also has a much more homogenous population whereas Houston is now the most diverse city in the US.  These assumptions were important to our team to address up-front and consider throughout the examination in order to focus on what programs we could have an impact on back home that fit within our system.

Danish Veteran CentreOne of the major takeaways from interviewing experts in Denmark was that they established the VeteranCentret or Danish Veteran Centre in 2011, which serves as the Ministry of Defense’s formal military transition hub (pictured left).  Through the Danish Veterans Center, transitioning soldiers can receive mental health treatment, employment and reintegration case management services, legal help, assistance in navigating the complex system of military benefits, and enrollment in the health care system. The Center’s extensive network of community-based locations (shown below) allows transitioning veterans access to services close to home. Although Houston has one of the most well-connected and collaborative informal networks of governmental entities and NGO’s serving the transitioning military population, we do not have a central hub for transitioning service members to seek these types of services.  The closest thing we have is the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center’s Post Deployment Clinic which focuses on enrolling returning veterans in the Veterans Health Administration for medical and mental health treatment but does not provide ancillary services related to employment, legal, and benefits assistance.

LocationsThe Danish Veterans Center is commanded by Army Colonel Jette Albinus and her staff consisting of both military and civilian professionals serving in various roles throughout the country.  Her mission is to execute the Danish Veterans Policy.  The Veterans Policy outlines many programs for the government to institute in response to the high number of combat veterans returning from Afghanistan but the program also serves all generations of veterans since Denmark has a substantial population who served in the Balkans.  The Danish Veterans Policy was developed in 2010 by the former Minister of Defence led by Gitte Lillehund Bech (pictured below) who our project team also met with.  In addition to providing all of the services referred to earlier, Colonel Albinus (pictured left) has direction to meet with and coordinate between the many important NGO’s that serve Danish veterans – a massive task in itself.  Her goal is to host an annual conference including the leadership from each NGO and to also visit these leaders in-person at least twice per year at their headquarters.  Her focus is on prevention of the issues that negatively impact a veteran’s transition.  Needless to say, after a 3 hour briefing by Colonel Albinus’ staff, our team was convinced that the Veterans Center concept is what Houston needs to better connect the multitude of programs and services offered by government and NGO’s in order to ensure we coordinate our efforts more successfully.  However, one of the key differences and challenges to overcome in Houston will be that the role of central coordinator between government and NGO programs is not designated through any equivalent, unifying veteran policy comparable to that of Denmark. Conceivably, without such a role outlined in policy, identifying, engaging, and holding these programs accountable could pose major challenges unless all those in the region opt-in to such an effort.

Our trip ended with a visit with the former US Ambassador to Denmark, Laurie Fulton, to gain her perspective on the lessons we were taking away from the experience.  Ambassador Fulton (pictured below from L-R: John Boerstler, Ambassador Fulton, Melanie Whittaker, and Peter Ernstved) took specific interest in what we are trying to build at the community level in Houston and has graciously introduced our project team to Consul Anna Holliday whom we plan to meet with in July in order to engage the The TeamDanish-American Chamber of Commerce in our planning.  We are proud to report that several key leaders within the Houston veteran community have begun meeting to outline a formal coalition of NGO’s and governmental entities in order to form a more collaborative network of services and to establish a central transition space similar to the Danish Veterans Center where all service members returning to the area will have an opportunity to meet with every type of program offered.  We hope that this effort will strengthen existing relationships, create new ones, and most importantly focus on preventing veteran unemployment, substance abuse, family challenges, homelessness, criminal behavior, and suicide.

From the many interviews our project team conducted with Danish veteran experts, several additional action items were identified that we can recommend for changes at the policy level in the US military transition systems.

Recommendation 1: Standardize Military Credentialing at the Federal Level

One of the largest gaps in translating military skills and experience to that of the civilian world is credentialing and licensing of various skilled and vocational trades.  For example, an Army electrician who has served in that role for 4 years does not come out of the military with a certification that is equivalent in most civilian systems.  Although efforts are currently being made by the Department of Defense, the American Legion, National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and private companies like Bechtel, a standardized, uniform national system that translates military vocational skills into civilian credentials is critically needed.  The Danish HKKF (Privates and Corporals Trade Union) is light years ahead of this problem after they took the European Union (EU) Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) skilled trade standardization guide and applied it to all of the Danish military occupational specialties and career fields in order to ensure transitioning soldiers have the credentials to work in the civilian sector upon discharge.  This program greatly impacts the soldiers’ successful transition from military to civilian life and is a model that our country should adopt in order to breakdown these barriers to employment.  It is our hope that the leader of the HKKF, Flemming Vinther, will be invited to participate as a panelist at the 2016 Military Credentialing Summit hosted by the American Legion in order to help make the necessary changes. Our team will try to facilitate his participation to further the Trans-Atlantic exchange of best practices in this field.

Recommendation 2: Evaluate the US Military Psychology and Chaplain Corps

Combat stress and symptoms related to post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury affect over 2,000 soldiers in Denmark.  As a result, the Danish military has bolstered its mental health programming in order to prevent chronic cases from developing.  6 military psychologists and several chaplains are assigned to each battalion 6 months prior to deployment to Afghanistan where they remain with the troops scheduling regular appointments during the campaign and staying with them upon return.  This is an extremely conscious and effective continuum of care provided to the soldiers that the US doesn’t have.  Another stark difference is that the Danish psychologists and chaplains are not rank-holding officers as they are in the US, instead they are professional civilian defense employees.  This has several advantages that our team determined.  For example, soldiers experiencing symptoms related to combat stress are much more apt to speak with someone they don’t have to address as “sir” or “ma’am”.  In this model, chain of command and military customs and courtesies are immediately taken out of the equation, which allows soldiers to open up more about their experience.  This undoubtedly has a positive impact on their overall transition and hopefully experience less chronic combat stress issues. Additionally, this consistent “embedding” of the same non-rank-holding clinicians allows for better identification, treatment, and addressing of pre-existing mental health issues among the troops prior to experiencing stressful situations in combat. The Department of Defense should consider changing to a similar model in preparation for future conflicts. Such a change would be consistent with the DoD’s goal of ending the stigma associated with seeking mental health services among those currently serving in the military.

Recommendation 3: Develop Regional Coalitions

Many experts advocate for a more community-based approach to helping veterans make a successful transition from military to civilian life.  The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently launched the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI), a community-based program focused on coordinating employment and education programs, which is an indicator that the federal government sees the value in a more local approach.  For example, the European Union has developed a formal coalition of NGO’s and government services led by an supranational organization called EuroMil.  In Denmark a national model has been adopted and because of their tradition in providing a much more comprehensive social welfare state, the MoD-led initiatives work as a supplement to the existing services, not as a parallel like the VA system.  Because the VA will likely never possess the ability to provide leadership in coordinating services at the community level, the need to develop formal networks or coalitions between governmental, private, and nonprofit entities is now greater than ever with the military’s reductions in force.  Hundreds of thousands of service members will return to communities across the country armed with very few relevant resources provided by the DoD transition system and it will be the responsibility of these community coalitions to ensure service members reintegrate successfully.  Regionalized planning and service delivery with a focus on prevention should be the goal of these networks similar to the Danish Veterans Center model. And perhaps, over time, the local, regionalized approach would allow the VA to slowly shrink the scope and size of the duplicative (separate) services they offer directly, allowing the core of what they offer to be effectively supplemented or complemented by those service providers they coordinate with.

Recommendation 4: Individualization of transition services

One major difference highlighted in our team’s interviews of Danish experts is the conscious effort on the part of the Danes to individualize their services for serving and transitioning military members. For example, by embedding psychologists with units before, during, and after deployments, those mental health professionals are able to establish a personal rapport with nearly every service-member in the unit. Also, when it comes to interviewing members transitioning out of the military, this is done on a multi-visit, one-on-one basis so that an in-depth analysis of what each individual service-member’s training and job responsibilities entailed. This is done with a realization that, beyond a basic understanding of what each broad military occupation involves, the skills and qualifications gained by the individual soldier can vary greatly depending on their particular unit or deployment experiences. As much as is practicable, the US DoD should also individualize the services it offers to transitioning military members. We realize this will be extremely challenging for our military, given the massive size of our force, but the current “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by DoD in most of the current programs has shown how a failure to individualize can allow large numbers of military member to effectively fall through the system’s cracks.

The Danes have developed several strong programs that Houston can learn from and even implement. However, we have to acknowledge the differences that exist between the two societies and apply only those lessons that fit within the existing culture and infrastructure.  That being said, more research is needed to uncover more innovative ways we can learn from one another, so this project will not stop with this report.  Both systems have room for improvement but its important to step outside of one’s own area of operations and see how our allies approach similar problems related to military transition.  The allure of “reinventing the wheel” is almost a regular occurrence within the DoD, VA, and community-based NGO’s but if we can effectively collaborate as a coalition of service providers focused on local impact and individualized services rather than redundancy, we will be able to effectively prevent more veteran unemployment, substance abuse, family challenges, homelessness, criminal behavior, and suicide.  We all have a stake in the successful transition of military veterans into our communities.  Now is the time to take ownership.


Gitte Lillehund Bech, Former Minister of Defence, CEO of Danish Ports

Jette Albinus, Colonel, Danish Army, Director of the Danish Veterans Centre

Flemming Vinter, Danish HKKF Director

Kristian Madsen, Politiken US Correspondent

Peter Ernstved, GMF Denmark Coordinator

Peter Serup, Major, Danish Army, Veterans Centre

Rene Pamperin, VeteranHaven Director

Lai Sorensen, Danish Afghanistan Veteran

Nicklas Bjaaland, Lieutenant, Danish Army Sports Program

Rune Oland Larsen, Danish Paralympic Committee Veterans Program

John Roberts, Wounded Warrior Project Executive Vice President

James Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Warrior Care Policy

Jennifer Perez, VA National Director for Transition and Care Management

Peggy Kennedy, VA Transition and Care Management Program

Dr. Stephen Hunt, VA Post Deployment Program

Dr. Drew Helmer, VA National War Related Illness Center Director

Lauren Lobrano, Wounded Warrior Project International Programs Director

Thorin Moser, Marine For Life Program

Sean Mahoney, zero8hundred Executive Director

Special Thanks To:

Kevin Cottrell, GMF Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives Director

Melanie Whittaker, GMF Program Officer

Kristian Madsen, Politiken US Correspondent

Lai Sorensen, Danish Afghanistan Veteran

Made Possible By:

German Marshall Fund | McKesson Foundation | Veterans Support Foundation

Lone Star Veterans Association | NextOp