The VA estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, or just over 8,000 a year, and in 2012, 349 active duty service members also took their own lives, which is a greater number than those who died in combat. We can debate all we want about the cause of this alarmingly high rate of suicides, but we should all agree that this is not just a government problem. The men and women, who serve, defend and protect all of us, and it is up to all of us to have their backs when they come home. There is no shortage of government run programs to help those suffering with PTSD, but there is so much we as a society can also do to help out.
Jake Wood, founder of Team Rubicon, an organization that helps veterans get back into civilian life by using their military skills in disaster relief, was interviewed on 60 Minutes this past week speaking of one his best friends and fellow veterans, Clay Hunt, a Purple Heart recipient who survived being shot, and tours in Iraq and Afghanistan: "Clay had the world at his fingertips. Clay could've done anything he wanted. He was smart. He was good-looking, charismatic. The ladies loved him. He was the all-American kid." Even with all of that going for him, Clay Hunt took his own life two years after leaving the Marine Corps. Clay was diagnosed and being treated for PTSD.
The one thing that seems to inevitably come up when you hear or speak to a veteran who is suffering from PTSD is the need to be part of the team again, or to contribute to something bigger than themself, and finding that back home is often challenging. They have seen things no human should ever have to see, and they come home and often feel lost, and that is something we should all feel guilty about. They could be any of our kids, bothers, sister, mothers, fathers, and we do owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
One area the civilian population can get involved in is employment. Imagine coming home after serving one or multiple tours in a war zone where the person to your left or right depends on you every day to stay alive, and then you find yourself home in a few months, with no mission or job, and nothing but time on your hands to reflect on the horrible things you have witnessed and the loss of your brothers and sisters. It is obvious that depression, anxiety, and stress will kick in, and if left untreated, it is no surprise, in too many cases results in the loss of life.
Hiring a veteran is not just the right thing to do, but it is one of the best decisions a business can make for their bottom line for a multitude of reasons: leadership, trustworthiness, dependability, training, education, integrity, maturity, and many more.
On March 20th, we are encouraging every employer in America who has a current opening to make a concerted effort to reach out to at least one veteran, and bring them in for an interview. If you are a homeowner and need work done around the house, consider hiring a veteran by using services such as Hire Patriots
There are currently more than 3 million jobs left unfilled in the U.S. and instead of leaving them open for months, or even years, why not adopt a training program at your company to hire veterans who have the skills, adaptability to learn the job. With more than 800,000 veterans currently unemployed and actively looking for work, this is one issue we as an entire nation can address, and rectify.
On March 20th, Veteran Recruiting Services in cooperation with the White House Joining Forces Initiative will host a nationwide online career fair that will connect thousands of veterans with employers who recognize, value, and respect the skills our nation's finest bring to the workforce. This event is open to all active, guard/reservists, veterans, and military spouses, and already has dozens of industry leading employers and federal agencies who are signed on to participate. We encourage all who would benefit from participating to register today at www.veteranrecruiting.com.
March 20th is a day for the country to come together to show our support for those who have served, but that doesn't mean we stop after the 20th. Let's make 2013 the year where all sectors of society come together to support and care for those who have sacrificed on all our behalf.