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Preparing Veterans for Success in Civilian Life

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Serving America's heroes! It's our honor and our duty -- not only that, it's important for our future! The men and women who have served our country in times of peace and war have earned our gratitude; but sometimes being thankful isn't enough. The young men and women who serve come back into an uncertain economy. How do they transfer the skills they learned in the military into skills they can use in their communities?

It's really not a difficult question: it's all about the community -- the people whom they've sworn to protect, the employers, the educators, and the community-based organizations -- recognizing that veterans are leaders and civic assets who are worth continued support on the homefront. These soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines have developed leadership, organization, management and technical skills in the defense of our country. We all know we need more of these skills -- we just have to be determined enough to translate in our minds their value to our businesses and our daily lives.

It's easy for me because I'm constantly inspired by stories such as Jason Tobey. After serving in the Marine Corps for six years and completing many tours including Desert Hope, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he found that found that neither companies nor society always look favorably upon the first Gulf War or the servicemen and women involved.

After changing jobs a number of times and exploring a number of industries, Jason decided to go back to school and focus on interior and architectural design. Upon graduation in 2009 -- the height of the economic downturn -- he had difficulty finding work.

He learned about the microenterprise development program at Goodwill of Orange County, a 15-week course that teaches people with disabilities and other challenges to finding employment about how to begin their own microenterprise. Through the course, he became involved with the local American Legion post in his area and recognized an opportunity to meet their security needs for their facility and their events. Using the knowledge he gained through Goodwill's future business owner's course, he temporarily changed his career trajectory and developed a security company that delivers a number of services. The business allows him to provide opportunities for those veterans and their families who are adjusting back into civilian life and looking to receive positive, gainful employment.

At Goodwill®, we're inspired by these kinds of stories that demonstrate the economic and personal independence that results when veterans are given the chance to explore and capitalize on their own skills, talents and interests. That is why we are excited to be the national activation partner for the Got Your 6 campaign.

Got Your 6, which in military language means "I've got your back," is a campaign spearheaded by nearly every major Hollywood entertainment studio, broadcast and cable network, talent agency, and guild to create new conversations in our country about veterans and military families as both leaders and civic assets.

Got Your 6 will focus on the six pillars of reintegration: jobs, education, health, housing, family, and leadership. Each pillar is led by an Activation Partner -- nonprofit organizations that are subject matter experts on each topic. Goodwill, which has been serving veterans since World War I, will work in tandem with partners from all six pillars to prepare and place veterans and their families in jobs across the country.

Our participation in this campaign builds on our commitment to the White House Joining Forces initiative where we spearheaded the Goodwill® for America's Heroes and their Families initiative and were successful in hiring more than 1,000 veterans and their family members, and serving more than 44,000 of these individuals. As part of Got Your 6, we hope to match these efforts, and with the other partners, deliver extraordinary results for the men and women who have done the same for all of us by preserving our freedoms.