The 1.8 million U.S. troops who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan appreciate our gratitude this Veterans Day. But what they really want, says a new survey, is the chance to help in their communities once they return home.
Time Magazine broke down some of the key statistics of the groundbreaking Civic Enterprises Survey: 92 percent of vets polled want to serve their communities once they return home, and most of them believe that their service should stand as an example for others in their community. Less than half of the 779 veterans who responded feel engaged in their communities, and only 13 percent strongly feel their transition to civilian life is going well, Time reported.
"We don't need handshakes and victory parades," says Alex Lemons, 30, who spent eight years in the Marines as a scout-sniper, including four tours in Iraq, before leaving the service last month. "We need to come back and see that people are ready to put us to work after we've been out there on their behalf doing some crazy dirty work." The stresses of deployment leave some veterans unable to reach out to help, but many are eager to do so just the same, which could help smooth their transition back to civilian life. "Getting involved in volunteer projects helps you get out of your own self-pity and pain," says Lemons, who has volunteered with environmental groups near his San Clemente, Calif., home. "It helps me reintegrate into society and not feel so alienated."
As of October, the unemployment rate for veterans was 11.6 percent, higher than the national average.
Impact sees this as an opportunity-- there are a lot of causes that need public support, and a group of very capable individuals who really want to help in their hometowns. Have you ever partnered with local veteran organizations to work towards a cause?
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