Over this past holiday weekend, Americans celebrated Memorial Day. This occassion is usually marked with families gathering to fire up the grill or bbq and spend time out in the sun enjoying the long weekend together or racing from store to store to get in on all the weekend shopping deals.
But as families jubilantly gather together we remember to observe the reasons why we have this day of rest and relaxation. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
And when we observe those who sacrificed their lives for our nation and other nations the United States has acted on behalf of, we too recognize the sacrifices of our active military and our veterans.
As we honor these brave men and women, what we forget to see is their struggles when they return from active duty, having served our country, the struggles to find ways to support themselves financially–the same struggles many non-military face since the economy tanked, in trying to find a job.
These individuals have earned our respect, our gratitude, and our support, and yet, when they return to civilian life, they are faced with the same issues everyone else is. Yes, there are many government programs put into place to help facilitate jobs for this particular population of people, but as with most efforts, it’s never quite enough.
As Jim Zarroli, of NPR News, stated, “The problem has taken on special urgency because of the anemic economy. The unemployment rate for veterans remains stubbornly high and, on a day when the country paused to pay tribute to those who fought its wars, finding a job may be the biggest challenge that many of those returning veterans will face.”(1)
With veteran employment rates well above the national average, if you know a veteran struggling to find a job and with it the hope of supporting themselves and their family, remember their sacrifice, and offer what you can to help.
It may be the business card of a contact for them to network with, it may be the chance at an interview, or it may be a kind word of encouragement, but however big or small the gesture, it goes a long way.
One benefit to looking at veterans to fill a company’s employment gap is that many are technology savvy, with Payscale.com releasing a recent report stating 10 out of 15 veteran hires are in technology-based jobs(2).
Also noteworthy and of benefit to many employers, over 50% of veterans maintain their security clearance, according to Monster.com’s Veteran Talent Index (VTI) report(2). Pair these findings with their general willingness to relocate, and a veteran can be a very attractive hire for many organizations.
So now that you’ve grilled your burgers, hotdogs, and brats, and raised a glass or tipped a hat to the service of these men and women over the holiday weekend, don’t just leave your gratitude to them to the observance of one day–take action and make a difference every day.
Ask yourself how you can help a veteran get back in the civilian workforce, and remember, even the smallest deed can make a big impact on someone’s life. Our veterans made a difference, its our turn to make a difference in their lives.
Jim Zarroli. Nation Remembers Veterans On Memorial Day. NPR News. May 2012
The Employment Situation of Veterans. Syracuse University. Institute for Veterans and Military Families. March 2012.