See the picture below? It’s an example of a PSA (public service announcement) ad you may have noticed in the pages of Maintenance Technology from time to time. We carry it on behalf of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org), the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This ad and others are part of an ongoing “You Are Not Alone” campaign by the Ad Council that has run since November 2008.
I draw your attention to this ad in July—a month known for the proud waving of American flags—because too many of our returning military veterans may be feeling as if they’ve been thrown into yet another hell-hole on earth: what appears to be, for many, a brutal, almost unimaginable battle for gainful employment and the dignity that goes with it. They deserve better.
Too bad our politicians can’t be bothered to deal substantively with the jobs crisis for the next few months. They’re so busy—the silly season of campaigning mostly about much of nothing is upon us. And, according to “word on the street,” we also need to be patient with companies that won’t hire ANYBODY (veterans included) until the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare and the Presidential election provide them with some “certainty.” (Oh, please! Let’s grow some courage out there!)
Thankfully, many groups and businesses are still brave enough to jump into the fray—IAVA being one. A January 2012 survey of the organization’s 200,000+ members uncovered an unemployment rate of 17%. (Note: Per May’s government jobs report, the overall unemployment rate for veterans is 12.7%.) We agree with IAVA: This level of joblessness among our vets is unacceptable. They deserve better.
(BTW: At Chicago’s “Smart Job Fair” on June 6, more than 40 companies, including JPMorgan Chase, MillerCoors, Prudential, GameStop, ComEd and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, participated.)To combat the problem, IAVA has teamed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to host several “Smart Job Fairs” around the country this year. As elements of IAVA’s “Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America” partnership with the Chamber, these activities are specifically designed to connect veterans with critical employment resources to ease their transition from combat to career. Employers learn ways to help bridge the military-civilian divide and meet vetted and confirmed veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The problem is that 40 companies in Illinois is a tiny drop in a very big bucket when it comes to hiring veterans. How many other companies are working to solve this crisis? In our March “Question of the Month” (www.mt-online.com/question), we asked what your companies/organizations are doing to help. To date, nobody has responded. I hope that was just an oversight at your end. If it was, email your answers to me directly. Should you agree to let us publicize your efforts, we will. Loud and clear.
They—so many of our vets—deserve better than they’ve received of late. Much better. MT