Every day, 500 military service members come home. Many will return with "invisible disabilities" such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, as well as other physical or emotional challenges. All are returning to an unstable economy, with a dismal 8.3 percent unemployment rate -- more than 10 percent among veterans -- and may struggle to find work.
This challenge means we need to do more for the veterans who have served and made incredible sacrifices on behalf of our country. They deserve the ability to find dignity through the power of work, and it is up to us as American citizens to help make their transition back to civilian life as easy as possible.
As TIME magazine demonstrated in a recent article, our returning troops have much to share -- from entrepreneurship and decision-making skills to discipline and training in the "STEM" fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). No longer are wars waged solely through on-the-ground battle. Drones and missiles are deployed remotely through secure computer software, for example, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have required troops possess more highly developed and complicated skills than ever.
When they return home, some veterans run for public office, obtain graduate degrees, found programs to aid other veterans, or find other ways to put their skills to work. But too many are still struggling. With one million unemployed veterans in the United States, the mission of finding them dignified work is crucial.
At Goodwill, we've answered this call to action in several ways, and we invite you to do your part through volunteerism. Goodwill provides specialized job training services to help meet the diverse needs of youth, seniors, veterans and military families, immigrants, people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds, and others with disadvantages to gaining or maintaining employment. When it comes to veterans, I'm proud to say that Goodwills across the country have robust programs tailored to meet their unique needs as they transition to civilian life.
Last year, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched the Joining Forces initiative to help military veterans and their families succeed at home. Goodwill was one of the first organizations to respond, establishing Goodwill for America's Heroes and Their Families in April 2011. Since that time, Goodwills have hired more than 1,350 veterans and their families. In addition, Goodwills have provided the necessary support services to veterans and their families, including housing assistance and primary and mental health care, to name a few.
In addition, Goodwill and other nonprofits have joined with the entertainment industry to launch Got Your 6, an initiative to start a nationwide conversation about how veterans and their families can lead us forward.
So, this Labor Day, when you're savoring your day off of work with friends and family, keep in mind that many people -- including veterans -- do not have that luxury. Let's help them leverage the skills they learned during their military service now that they've come home.
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