01/23/2013 02:21 pm ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Invest in Veterans

As the country wrestles with the budget crisis, there is one thing on which we agree: just as we are committed to the country's security and defense, we are committed to our veterans and military families. Without them, we would have no defense. They are proven leaders and community assets.

For the men and women who defend our country and their families, the battle doesn't end once their tours of duty are over. More than a million service members will transition back into civilian life over the next five years. As veterans return home, both they and their families will face challenges. Of particular concern, the stubbornly bleak job market translates to high unemployment for veterans, especially young veterans, who face an unemployment rate of nearly 30 percent, more than three times the national average. In addition, military families are frequently relocated during the member's service, making it difficult to build credentials and careers. The fight to earn employment is often further complicated for the many veterans who return home with service-related physical disabilities or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Considering everything these veterans have done for us and the value they add to our communities, there should be no greater national priority than ensuring that they receive all of the services they need to successfully transition into civilian life. In 2011, Goodwill answered First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's call to action to help veterans and military families train for the workforce. The result, Goodwill for America's Heroes and Their Families, has helped thousands of veterans and military families receive training and find employment. In 2012, Goodwill joined Got Your 6, a nationally-focused collective campaign led by the entertainment industry and nonprofits with the mission of creating a new conversation in America -- one in which veterans and military families are recognized as both leaders and civic assets. In addition, Goodwill launched Operation: GoodJobs, with the support of the Walmart Foundation, to assist both veterans and their families in three geographic areas with job training and placement, and long-term financial stability.

To build on our success with Operation: GoodJobs, we recently launched an initiative with the support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation -- Vested in Veterans -- which will help even more veterans and their families secure educational opportunities, find jobs and build careers. Bank of America is proud to partner with Goodwill to support job training and placement for veterans. Four Goodwill headquarters were chosen by Bank of America based on their impact and their relationships with the community. Each participant in the Vested in Veterans program will receive an individualized career and financial plan designed to support a comprehensive set of personal goals related to employment, finances, assets, leadership and service. Participants will have access to community college courses, job search and placement services, and holistic career development tools designed to ensure long-term financial success and create a roadmap for their civilian careers.

We invite you to join us in making sure Vested in Veterans is one of the first of many dedicated initiatives to connecting military veterans and their family members with career and financial success. If there is one thing that all of us, regardless of political affiliation, can agree on, it is that America's heroes and their families deserve all the support they need to succeed. For more information, contact 1-800-GOODWILL or