The holiday season is about spending time with our family and loved ones. We should remember that many of our men and women in uniform will be separated from their families during this special time of year. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they make to protect our freedoms. They are among the best this country has to offer.
I was reminded of this recently when Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson delivered an inspiring speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His courage, sacrifice, determination, and optimism reminded us all of how fortunate we are to live in this great country. Gadson graduated in 1989 from West Point, where he lettered four years as an outside linebacker for the Army football team. On May 7, 2007, he was grievously injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Iraq. Eleven days later, he lost his left leg above the knee; five days later, his right.
Lt. Col. Gadson is just one of 22,000 American casualties from IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is one of about 1.5 million troops who have served in those countries since 2001. During his remarks, he spoke confidently about the future and his desire to continue to serve and make meaningful contributions to society while supporting his young family.
The business community can benefit enormously by tapping the tremendous pool of talent that exists among America's veterans and their families, including those who have been wounded or injured. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Defense are working together to assist veterans transitioning into civilian careers. The following Web sites provide information, resources, and instructions for recruiting veterans as well as job posting opportunities: www.hirevetsfirst.gov, which is managed by the Department of Labor; www.recruitmilitary.com; and www.military.com/careers, which has partnered with Monster to connect employers who value military experience with those who serve.
Companies that make a special effort to hire these talented individuals invariably tell us they are great, hardworking, and smart employees. Besides, this country will need many new workers to fill shortages in critical, growing industries and to replace the 77 million baby boomers who will begin retiring next year.
Hiring and training veterans are not only the right things for businesses to do, but they are good for our nation. Supporting our troops in the field and those who have served their country is the least we can do, considering how much they have done for us, for America, and for the world.
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