Author Archive for: silhouettesforvets


Reflections of Veterans Day

sfv_vets_day2It has been over 4 decades since I returned from Vietnam. It would be trite if not unobserving, to simply say how the world has evolved!

After a 15-hour flight from Vietnam to McCord Air Force Base I can’t help but remember seeing protesters with signs and throwing rocks at our cab that would take us to the Seattle Airport so I could, after 362 days, finally go home. For the next 40 years I was shy (almost embarrassed) to let anyone know I was a Veteran –a Vietnam Veteran. It was a time that for so long I just wanted to forget! So the past 40 plus Veterans Days has just been another day when Federal Employees were given a day off! I had no desire to participate in celebrations or events because of how I was “welcomed home” by almost everyone (except maybe my parents) from Vietnam in 1969!

It was not until 2012 that someone casually said to me…”Thank you for your Service!” I am not sure how I responded but I do know that I was shocked that someone, anyone would recognize my contribution (no matter how insignificant).
But that was a different time in our history. Perhaps the lessons of the strategy of winning in Vietnam are not only embedded in history but have also set the groundwork understanding the sacrifice made by a few of us for our country. I was lucky – I came home! It was a different time and a sad time in our history.

So let’s fast-forward to the present…I can say without reservation that how we view those of us who have made these commitments has changed! Today understanding the Veteran community, it seems, it at the top of everyone’s “to do list”. Veterans are appreciated for their service and their commitment. It goes without saying that it is politically correct to honor a Vet – there is a feeling throughout the country that Veterans deserve respect for their service. Finally we can all stand tall and say that we “Served”!

Yet politically correct only gets us so far! Feeling and saying is not enough. It is time for a more concerted effort to make every Veteran whole! Let’s stop saying we are going to end Veteran homelessness, help every Veteran with a psychological or substance abuse issue and make sure we do something or anything to decrease Veteran unemployment! Let’s cut through the bureaucracy of studies and forms and get the work that needs to be done accomplished.

Unfortunately there are some organizations that take advantage of the political correctness of assisting Veterans – to those organizations I will say “go find another cause to support”! Let the organizations that are committed to the well being of our Veterans do our work and help to effectively end the issues facing today’s Veterans.

In 2014 I created Silhouettes for VETS with only one goal in mind…Coach and Prepare Veterans for the workforce. And by doing so I could impact the staggering Veteran unemployment rate. After over 40 years in the Staffing and Human Resources industry I am keenly aware that the population in general does not know how to look for a job (career) and that number is dramatically increased in the Veteran community. So I used my experience to give back! And giving back we have helped place 80% of the Veterans we have coached into career positions! Just think how much we could accomplish if our model is expanded. Can you envision Veteran unemployment at 5%? – now wouldn’t that be great.

But is not just Silhouettes for VETS. Many organizations in the non-profit sector have the same level of commitment to our Veterans. Organizations like NVTSI, Makeovers that Matter, The Gary Sinise Foundation, Hire our Hero’s, Easter Seals, The Salvation Army Haven, JVS, The Soldiers Project, PsychArmor, PATH and many others are having a profound impact as they work with Veterans to ensure that they can make a seamless transition to civilian life.

Let’s take a moment and know that policies, documents and plans don’t help the Veteran community. We need a call for results. Each of the organizations that are committed to work for the benefit of our Veterans already has a plan – let’s put our plan (s) into action without delay. So I challenge each of you who are currently working and supporting our Veterans to do just 10% more in the coming twelve months! The results, I can assure you, will have a profound impact in making the Veteran community a better place.

So as we celebrate, commemorate Veterans Day 2015 let’s all reflect and honor those of us that have served – let’s do more – let’s to everything we can so Veterans can be off the street, psychologically sound, drug and alcohol free and employed!

To everyone who has ever served…THANK YOU!


Hiring Veterans on Expert’s Corner

Silhouettes For Vets Founder Mark Brenner guest blogged on Read Marks blog on Expert’s Corner: Hiring Veterans — Preparing this talent pool for the workforce is critical.

By |May 1st, 2015|Department, Experts Corner, May 2015

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Expert’s Corner: Hiring Veterans

Unemployment among US military veterans is substantially higher than that of working age civilians. In Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 43,000 unemployed veterans.

At the same time, there are nearly 45,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the country that work with veterans. Thousands of these organizations are dedicated to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life with the end goal of attaining employment. This is the good news.

The bad news is, many of these organizations are interested in putting veterans to work in the civilian sector without consideration of a living wage — which does not solve the problem. In fact, the repercussions can be more severe than one realizes.

It can lead to these veterans needing to seek out government assistance, facing the reality of becoming homeless or possibly contemplating suicide. The suicide rate for veterans is staggering, and the number of homeless veterans is also unacceptable.

Given this backdrop, it’s not enough for companies to establish “veteran hiring initiatives.” Yes, if implemented properly, a veterans hiring initiative is a great step toward decreasing veteran unemployment. Unfortunately, the issue with these initiatives presents a two-fold dilemma: On the one hand, a great percentage of these initiatives are created because it is the “right thing to do.” But most importantly, it is not the first step needed to ensure that veterans are employed at a living wage.

Preparing veterans. Veterans are highly skilled people. It is up to the staffing industry to adapt its HR policies and take a deeper look at how the industry fills jobs. By revising its approach, agencies can have access to a pool of talent with unique and valuable skill sets.

What is critical in this process is helping veterans prepare for the job search and qualify for the position before being considered by the company. The first step, therefore, in transitioning veterans into the civilian workforce is to prepare them for it.

The military has contracted with companies to assist in the transition of returning vets. A point to remember is however, many of these programs cannot effectively prepare veterans for the workforce in a one- or two-day workshop.

To that end, there are many nonprofit veteran service organizations that supplement these transition workshops. Some assist with résumés or interviewing skills. My organization, Silhouettes for VETS, takes a one-onone customized approach to educate, prepare and coach veterans through the hiring cycle in order to get a viable job.

The process. Staffing companies can work with organizations that empower veterans to navigate the hiring cycle including transition to civilian life, identifying companies and skill sets, the creation of a résumé, time management and interviewing techniques. There are some programs that address some of these requirements and others provide one or two elements. Some programs, such as Silhouettes for VETs, also include ongoing support after the veteran has secured employment.

Collaborating with other nonprofit veteran service organization allows companies and staffing firms to resolve issues faced by transitioning veterans. Here are just a few: The Salvation Army Haven helps address veteran homelessness, The Soldiers Project works with veterans struggling to reintegrate from military to civilian life and National Veterans Transition Services assists veterans as they move from military life to civilian life.

The goal. It’s on all of us to help transitioning veterans find employment in the civilian workforce. Through collaboration and better understanding of this ecosystem, all parties — including staffing firms — can better help to reduce veteran unemployment, and in the process, poverty and homelessness. This is a great opportunity to help the country and your business.



sfv_portrait_mark_brenner-1In the past 18 months Silhouettes for VETS has become a driving force in working with Veterans as they search for a job. Our Programs that educates, coaches and prepares Veterans for the workforce has resulted in an 80% success rate – 80% of the Veterans we have coached have gained an understanding of the hiring cycle and been offered employment. Not just a job but also a career as each of the Veterans who have completed our 10-Component Program is working in a position that is at or above a living wage.

Recently, Silhouettes for VETS has been featured in an interview on LATalkLive and received mention in a segment with one of our partners, Makeovers that Matter, on KTLA

And that is just the start for we are developing the outline for a one-hour radio call-in talk show that will feature Silhouettes for VETS, REBOOT and Makeovers that Matter. We all agree that it is time that we create a positive media image for Veterans who transitioning and are getting “job ready” – preparing each Veteran in every way for the workforce. Move to follow on our progress.

As I mentioned in a previous Blog, the synergy created by the partnership of REBOOT, Silhouettes for VETS and Makeovers that Matter is the entire package for Veterans who are transitioning from the military. This collaboration covers every aspect of transitioning Veterans so once the Programs are completed each Veteran will be “job ready”!

Silhouettes for VETS has also made some very important additions to our Board of Directors. In recent months we have added 7 new members who will be instrumental in our successes in the coming months. Along with our current members, Mark Brenner, Dennis Forst and Marvin Rapaport, MD, I am proud to welcome the following new Board Members:

  1. Anthony Cuculo, Major General (Ret)
  2. Stuart Gross, Retired TV Producer and M&A and Branding Expert
  3. Maurice Wilson, President of NVTSI (REBOOT)
  4. Melissa Metz, Director of Human Resources for Exelis Inc.
  5. Kelly Logan, Executive Director of Silhouettes for VETS
  6. Nancy Butler, Fundraising Expert
  7. Sari Drucker, Business Woman and Owner

A Board meeting with all our Directors will be held on Friday June 19, 2015 at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall at 9 am.

Silhouettes for VETS has been asked by The Chamber of Commerce – Hire our Hero’s Program to present our 10 Component Program to three military installations throughout the United States. We are excited for this opportunity to work with more Veterans as they transition to civilian life.

Stay tuned as we are producing a series of Videos that will run our Website and Facebook pages. These Videos will include testimonials from a few of our Veterans along with an introduction to our programs.

We have come a long way in a very short period of time – and this is just the beginning. Once fully funded, Silhouettes for VETS will be expanding throughout California so we can have a greater impact on decreasing Veteran unemployment…One Veteran at a time.

And of course, our efforts need your support. You donations will help us increase the number of Veterans we serve and expand our coaching capabilities. Donations start at $25.00. Thank you for your support





SYNERGY – Silhouettes for VETS, REBOOT and Makeovers that Matter!


There are thousands of organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, that support our Veterans. In fact there are over 44,000 non-profit organizations that in some way or another work with Veteran related causes. Of these thousands a great many work with Veterans as they transition from the military to civilian life from adjustment to life outside the military to identifying a similarity between a military occupation and a civilian job, workshops that discuss all aspects of this sometimes difficult transition. Organizations like Silhouettes for VETS coach and prepare Veterans for the workforce. And finally there are organizations like Makeovers that Matter that physically prepare these Veterans for civilian life.

I am proud to announce that a Partnership has been formed that will cover the facets of the transition of Veterans to civilian life. Silhouettes for VETS, National Veterans Transition Services (REBOOT) and Makeovers that Matter have joined forces to make available a “transition collaboration” that prepares Veterans for civilian life both mentally and physically:

REBOOT: National Veterans Transition Services, Inc., lead by Maurice Wilson, (US Navy Ret.) prepares Veterans for their Transition to civilian life through a 3-week workshop that reintegrates our Veterans and prepares them for life outside the military.

SILHOUETTES FOR VETS: A premier customize coaching organization, lead by Mark Brenner (Vietnam Veteran and Career Coach) that educates, coaches and prepares Veterans for the workforce. Each program is customized to the needs of each Veteran.

MAKEOVERS THAT MATTER: Lead by one of Los Angeles’ leading stylists Makeover that Matter (MJ Derricott) works with both Female and Male Veterans to assist in making the outside appearance of each Veteran look as good as the inside. Makeover that Matter further takes the final step in the transition by hosting a 9- week, 36-hour program called The Mind Set Program.

It is the goal of our organizations to prepare transitioning Veterans for both civilian life and the workforce. By combining our specific areas of expertise we will be a major factor in eliminating the issues that face our Veterans as they prepare for civilian life. We all have taken our responsibilities to our Veterans a step further by establishing partnerships with other organizations that work to eliminate Veteran homelessness, mental health and substance related issues.

With thousands of organizations who dedicate themselves to working with Veterans, the collaboration of REBOOT, Silhouettes for VETS and Makeovers that Matter stands out as a one of a kind working relationship that not only acts to prepares Veterans for civilian life but is effective in getting the job done.

Please make sure you visit our Websites at:

Our mutual goal is to ensure that all Veterans have the tools necessary to transparently transition from military to civilian life. By combining our areas of specific expertise we can meet our goals.


Why Hire a Veteran?

I pose this question, “Why hire a veteran?”, knowing that the answer has for the most part eluded the American Job Market since the conclusion of the war in Vietnam in 1975. For the obviously reasons a company or conglomerate ought to hire a veteran has been occluded and disguised behind the reek and subterfuge of our nations sympathy and patriotism. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because vets deserve our thanks. You shouldn’t hire a veteran for the tax breaks or the good PR. You shouldn’t hire a veteran because of the suicide epidemic within the community where it’s been shown that employment is canary in the coal mine and the bellwether for more serious mental health concerns. And you shouldn’t even hire a veteran because it’s the right thing to do. No the real reason to hire a veteran is rooted in cold unforgiving capitalism and surmised most eloquently from the retired NFL Wide receiver Randy Moss…”Straight cash Homie!”

Yes the reason to hire veterans are that under the right conditions, veterans make an organization a ton of money, and vastly more than could be accumulated with civilian counterparts. Beyond values and honor, veterans bring to the civilian world an unabashed almost maniacal compulsion to accomplish the mission. And veterans will stop at nothing to achieve this, even at the expense and detriment of their own personhood. Once veterans achieve total buy in, they are adaptive, ingenious, rugged, and brash, living by the ethos: Mission First, Men Second (men signifying universality).

So what’s the catch? And If it were that easy then why isn’t everyone doing it? Well the truth is that it isn’t that easy. The United States Military did not invent the first electric programmable computer, the atomic bomb, and topple Nazi Germany in a two-year span because we were more capable, the military accomplished these feats because it was more committed. Whenever dealing with the military the secret sauce will always come back to leadership. The United States doesn’t spend billions on ROTC and Academy scholarships for nothing, it’s because it takes committed knowledgeable Leadership to harness the wealth of potential embedded within an U.S. serviceman.

I threw in the words “under the right conditions,” as a hedge. Creating proper conditions is not without its cost, and conceivably not for all organizations. By throwing a veteran into an environment without explicit duty, to deprive a veteran of the significance of his/her work, or to limit responsibility is a recipe detrimental to the organization and the veteran. But as the free market dictates, it takes money to make money, and should a company be willing to create the structure where veterans have both the significance associated with their work as well as management suited to inspire, well then even Hitler would attest, that there aren’t any individuals better suited to innovate, manage, invent, succeed and most importantly drive profits. And I’m certain you’ll find then ends justify the means.

Alex Mack is a U.S. Army Veteran, former Infantry Officer and Ranger. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and has worked as a headhunter/recruiter for numerous companies before transitioning into the Veteran nonprofit sector. Alex currently serves as the Director of Development for Silhouettes for Vets, an l non-profit bridging the employment veteran civilian divide by any means necessary.


A Veteran’s Hiring Initiative – Do YOU Really Have One?

Most large and mid-size companies throughout the country have Veteran Hiring initiatives – or do they?

First, it seems fair to ask – What actually is a Veterans Hiring Initiative?  Does this mean the company will only hire Veteran’s – of course not!  Does it mean that it is advantageous from a publicity stance to “say” you have a Veterans initiative – perhaps!  Or does a Veterans Hiring Initiative mean that a company will make a concerted effort to hire Veterans – Yes!  Over the course of the past few years as these initiatives were developed and implemented this is the breadth and depth of what a highly functioning veterans initiative should be.

Unfortunately a great number of companies say they have Veteran Hiring Initiatives for outward appearances to the public, for these companies are marketing their organization for their own benefit without any of the claimed benefit professed to be bestowed on our Veterans.

Companies who have Veteran Hiring Initiatives have open positions – these are not Veterans jobs but jobs!  It is a misconception to believe that a company with an initiative will only hire Veterans.  Of course a company with an initiative would prefer to hire a Veteran but if a Veteran applicant is not prepared or qualified for the job then the position ought to and will be offered to the person who will perform the best. Therefore all job openings should be treated as such and even though an initiative may exist, it is not a Veterans job opening – it is a job opening!

Throughout the Los Angeles area companies are making a concerted effort to hire Veterans.  Many Staffing Companies have created military divisions to work with Veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce.  Both private and public sector companies (including staffing organizations) coupled with Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Veteran Hiring Initiative are making in-roads to ensure Veterans are securing positions at a living wage. Yet for as many companies that are actively recruiting and hiring Veteran talent in Los Angeles, there are perhaps 10-fold more who only advertise their initiative for their own benefit. Los Angeles and the nation must strive to employ our Veterans at a wage that is sustainable in order that we decrease the number of homelessness, substance abuse, and suicide within the Veteran community.

The solution to the Veterans Hiring Initiative is two-fold.  It incumbent upon those service veteran organizations, like Silhouettes for VETS, to prepare our Veterans for the workforce.  There are literally dozens of organizations in the Los Angeles area who prepare, in one way or another, Veterans for the workforce including, the VA, EDD, CCD, JVS, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.  Yet when surveyed Veterans say that they do not know where to go to get these services.  The job of the service organizations is not only to prepare and educate our Veterans for the workforce but also to spread the word about the services that are offered. 

There are over 40,000 non-profit organizations throughout the country that work with Veterans.  Many of these companies work to support Veterans to educate and prepare them for employment.  Yet spreading the word about these companies who prepare Veterans for employment is not an easy task.  Many organizations are competitive and judged off the numbers of enrolled vets they can procure making the process of hiring both soiled and competitive. Veterans should be able to work with as many organizations as they wish in order that they can be prepared for the workforce and get a job.

The USC School of Social Work Survey, “The State of the American Veteran” cites that 8 out of 10 Veterans arriving in Los Angeles are unemployed!  There are over 16,000 Veterans in Los Angeles who are unemployed and over 40,000 Veterans unemployed in Los Angeles County.  And thousand’s more who are under employed.  For purposes of Veterans hired, it is unfair to consider those who are under employed (below a living wage).   Many of these returning military personnel are not prepared for the civilian workforce.  The organizations that educate and prepare Veterans for the workforce have undertaken a herculean task. But through coordinated and concerted efforts these organizations can make a difference – to educate and prepare every single qualified Veteran for the civilian workforce.

The second piece of the puzzle remains with the employer. Employers with Veteran Hiring Initiatives ought give strong consideration to qualified Veteran candidates. Not just by saying, “We hire Veterans” or “Veteran Welcome”, but by taking action by mandating a percentage of the workforce, such as many companies in New York have done. If every company with an initiative agreed to a percentage, regardless of what the percentage was, veterans would then become interviewed and their skills and abilities would quickly come to the forefront of the corporate world.  Although military life does not parallel civilian life, it does educate our Veterans to understand the value of a work ethic and task accomplishment, the cornerstones of productive business practices. 

It is one thing to say we hire Veterans, but it is something entirely different to see these words begin to equal action. Let us all, Veteran Service Organizations and employers alike, work together to use our knowledge, our expertise as well as our appreciation to decrease the Veteran unemployment rate and eliminate the number of those who are under employed.



A Year in Review…

Over a year ago I began cultivating and developing the concept of a unique organization that would present a program that worked with Veterans to empower them to find gainful employment.  After over 500 hours of research the concept, the business plan and the implementation of the Silhouettes for VETS program began in January of 2014.  What I believed would be a 20-hour a week effort has turned into a full time endeavor that has become the most rewarding work I have ever undertaken.

As I began a call to action for Silhouettes for VETS I had no idea that this concept would be so positively received.  I remember going to my first event at CSUN with homemade business cards, no brochures and only an idea for a website.  Even without any collateral material my initial conversations with veterans made me realize that the need for a one-on-one customized educational and coaching service that empowers Veterans to find employment was in high demand.

There are over 40,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the United States that work with veterans – many of them work to put veterans to work.  There are organizations that prepare resumes, assist with interview techniques, work with veterans in transition and those that offer workshops assisting veterans as they enter the civilian workforce.  Yet I have found that no one organization has developed a one-on-one customize approach to working with veterans through the entire hiring cycle – from transition from the military to the first day of work and beyond. 

Silhouettes for VETS in a unique and customized program that works with veterans to educate, empower and prepare veterans individually for the workforce.

Nonprofit organizations that assist veterans in any manner can only succeed with a passion and a commitment that is unwavering.  The passion and commitment of Silhouettes for VETS has resulted in over 75 Veterans finding gainful employment in the past 10 months.  Our goal will always remain – Increasing Veteran employment…one Veteran at a time!

For the first 10 months, I coached veterans and marketed the services of Silhouettes for VETS.  During this time I collaborated with many of the other nonprofits that work with veterans.  My special thank you to The Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, The Office of the Mayor (Los Angeles) and many of the Work Source Centers (especially Canoga Park) for without your support my coaching successes could not have happened. 

But a special thanks goes to Kelly Logan who is now the Executive Director and Vice President of Silhouettes for VETS.  Her tireless efforts to support veterans through the Los Angeles area is unmatched and without equal.  Her dedication to our veterans along with her creative ideas on how to better assist the veteran community is one of the major reasons for the success of Silhouettes for VETS. 

We are about to enter our second year of working with veterans in a one-on-one customized environment.  I am confident that the seeds we have planted in the past twelve months will enable Silhouettes for VETS to grow into a national organization that will educate, prepare and assist veterans as they seek gainful employment.  It is our goal, with your generous donations ( and the award of grants to have Silhouettes for VETS locations in at least 10 cities in the next 18 months.

My heartfelt Thank You to all the Veterans with whom we have worked over the past year, the organizations and educational institutions who have supported our efforts, our passion and the Veterans with whom will be work with over the coming years.

A Happy, Safe and Healthy New Year to Everyone.



Thank you for your service

It has been over 4 decades since I returned from Vietnam. Over 40 Veteran Day’s have past and now I find myself honored by each and every Veteran who has served our Country.

The work of Silhouettes for VETS over the past year has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Though our unique Coaching Program we have helped over 75 Veterans find gainful employment.

As we continue our efforts in educating and coaching veterans and their families in gaining an understanding of how to…”GET A JOB” Silhouettes for VETS will have a dramatic impact in decreasing veteran unemployment throughout the United States.

Silhouettes for VETS is honored to have created partnership with all the organizations that support our Veterans. My thank you to the LA Mayors Office, The Salvation Army, EDD, US Vets and Volunteers of America as your support and efforts has made a difference.


Edward James Olmos (pictured) with Silhouettes For Vets Mark Brenner

I would also like to thank the companies who have created Veterans hiring initiatives as your organizations hold the keys to offering veterans a career.
For those who individuals support our veterans like Edward James Olmos (pictured), Gary Sinise, James Caan and many others thank you for your continued support.

So to all Veterans from every era – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!


Silhouettes for VETS has been approved!

Silhouettes for VETS has been approved by the IRS as a Tax Exempt Nonprofit 501 (c) (3) Corporation.

The approval allows Silhouettes for VETS to solicit and accept your donations in order that we can better service the Veteran community both in Los Angeles and throughout the United States.

Over the course of the past year Silhouettes for VETS has experienced growth and most importantly success beyond our expectations.  The results are astounding, as our work with over 60 Veterans has resulted in a 75% success rate as Veterans are finding gainful employment.

With the recent addition of Kelly Logan as Silhouettes for VETS Vice President of Operations and Ann Henzgen, Volunteer Coach we can now service more Veterans throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

Silhouettes for VETS has gained national recognition as one of the premier Coaching services for Veterans.  Our one on one customized 10 Module Coaching Program is a one of a kind model that empowers each Veteran to find their “Dream Job”

Your donation will allow us to increase the number of Veterans that we service.  Deceasing the Veteran unemployment rate “…one Veteran at a time”

Please help us by making a donation by clicking the link below.  Or you may send a Personal or Business Check to:

Please help us by making a donation by clicking the link below.


Or you may send a Personal or Business Check to:

Silhouettes for VETS
17412 Ventura Blvd., Suite 218
Encino, CA 91316 Thank you for your support!


Silhouettes For Vets in Las Vegas Review Journal


Mark Brenner, president and CEO of Silhouettes for VETS Inc., discusses the importance of eradicating misconceptions about PTSD with Kelly Logan, director, Veterans Advocacy Network, Santa Clarita, Calif. Brenner’s West Hills, Calif., organization offers a free program that empowers veterans from transition until they settle into the civilian workplace.

Syndicated Columnist Milred Culp, PhD for the Knoxville New Sentinel, has written an article that appears in the Las Vegas Review Journal (September 15, 2014) that highlights and discusses the great work being done by Silhouettes for VETS. Silhouettes for VETS works with transitioning Veterans as they search for gainful employment by coaching each Veteran in one on one customized sessions so that they can gain a complete understanding of the hiring cycle – in other words “…how to get a job…

To read the entire article online go to Las Vegas Review Journal Click here