Friday, August 16, 2013

"Where do we go from here?'

 “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - President John F. Kennedy

     "You will be fine."  "Everything will work out." "How could they NOT hire you?" "You have so much to offer." "Don't worry.", words uttered out of sheer ignorant optimism. Believe! Those were actual phrases of positive encouragement written and spoken to my brother during the past ten months. Steve has proudly served his country as a member of the US Armed Forces for over twenty years. Serving or retiring from the military is an achievement that invokes pride and honor as an American citizen. Most American adults cannot or have never been given the opportunity to commit to any endeavor for twenty years let alone the United States military. He officially retired from the US Navy with the deservedly shiny hopeful attitude that along with his retirement benefits he would quickly secure quality full time civilian employment. Our country is miserably failing veterans.

     Have you ever been unemployed? Chances are if you are a member of the American work force you have been unemployed at least a year or more in your lifetime. From manufacturing to education, from Internet technology to health care you have known or will know what it feels like to be laid off, let go, forced to retire, forced to resign or experience a reduction in compensated work hours. It's reality. It's a real fact of life for those on the front lines of the American workforce. If you haven't experienced any form of unemployment, age discrimination, pay reduction, loss of benefits or general work related coercion consider yourself extremely fortunate. You may have a great deal of difficulty sympathizing with the typical American worker and I'm sorry you do because that may indicate you're not part of the solution but a huge part of the problem. Ignoring or berating the needs of thousands and thousands of unemployed or under employed American military veterans and millions of out of work civilian's is a disgrace to this country. Unemployed, educated and skilled civilians are routinely forced to reexamine options, consider alternatives, soul search, dedicate their time, funds and effort to discover meaningful livable wages and push forward. You can't afford or be afraid to ask for help if your future plans entail more than just daily survival. There are over 400 organizations (not all reputable) in the US that were designed to assist current, returning or disabled veterans but like most things in life, to stay afloat they are swimming in endless research, jumping through government hoops or drowning in piles of bureaucratic paperwork to find organizations  that best serve their needs. One of the most important things we can do, military or civilian is bring about change through education and awareness. My brother deserves more. We all deserve more.

 Here is a link to an article I contributed regarding five outstanding nonprofit veterans organizations:

      Among veterans who served during the post-9/11 era and who have a service-connected disability, the unemployment rate during 2012 was 8.0 percent reported the Labor Department in March. Many believe that percentage is much higher.  It's surreal that our government allows United States veterans, who have served our country by promising the ultimate sacrifice, to continue struggling and sacrificing the rest of their lives. Let's continue to question and ask ourselves and our government why this is occurring in one of the most prosperous nations in the world?