This is the slogan used by the non-profit, volunteer-led organization Soldiers Angels that has been assisting families of veterans and veterans deployed, wounded and moving back into society. These volunteers are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of soldiers, as well as regular Americans who know the sacrifices our military makes to keep all of us safe.
For most Americans, we really are not affected by the sacrifices our military makes for their country, and as important, the sacrifices their families make. Sure when we see them in uniform at the airport, we feel proud, but then the moment passes as we move on with our lives.
Military.com reported earlier this month that 12.4 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets are unemployed, 3 percent higher than the national average. CBS MoneyWatch.com reported that vets' unemployment in Michigan is at 29.4 percent, in Indiana at 23.6 percent and in Minnesota at 22.9 percent. Why is this not headlining news?
I am pretty sure that America cares, and should feel somewhat guilty that we are not supporting these heroes like we did in past generations.
In Congress, we are beginning to see some isolated compassion. Radio Iowa reported last week that Congressman Bruce Braley is calling for a new tax break for businesses that hire unemployed veterans. The Bremerton Washington Patriot also reported this month that Senator Patty Murray's bill, the "Hiring Heroes Act", is trying to smooth the transition process for veterans. On a more local level, this month the Murphysboro American in Illinois reported the honoring of two associates at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) who excelled in providing job counseling, testing and placement assistance to unemployed Veterans.
But then we read an article in The Huffington Post last week where California is cutting veterans courts from their budget. These specialized courts help veterans, so this can't be good. Why as a society are we sending our veterans such mixed messages? As Soldiers Angels believes: "May no soldier go unloved."
Both my father and father-in-law are WWII vets. Interestingly, both visited the VA hospital this month and both commented to me how sincerely compassionate everyone at the hospital was -- from the receptionist, to the nurses to the doctors. I realize that when you are in your 80s any compassion received from a stranger is amplified, but these proud old vets truly appreciated how considerately and respectfully they were treated.
So why can't we show this same thoughtfulness to the vets of this newest generation. Our businesses must show this generation our compassion and appreciation by employing them. Our government must help them transition back to civilians. We as a nation must embrace these vets like we embraced my father's generation.
As a nation, we celebrate Labor Day. As a nation, we celebrate Veterans Day. As a nation, we need to celebrate our veterans having productive jobs back in society. Only a strong moral commitment from both business and government can achieve this. All of us need to work towards this end. And our veterans need to know: We salute you!
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