Last Monday, many Americans took the day off to wave flags, applaud patriotic speeches and cheer the men and women who have served our country on the battlefield. That's all well and good — it's absolutely necessary, actually. But, perhaps now, there's something even more meaningful you can do to show your gratitude and make a tangible difference in veterans' lives, particularly those who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 2.5 million members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Reserve and National Guard have been deployed to those war zones since the United States got involved militarily 10-plus years ago. A third have been deployed multiple times. I imagine all of us, no matter which point of the political spectrum we fall on or what we think of American foreign policy, agree that all of these men and women are heroes and deserve every opportunity to thrive once they're safely back home. Yet, as of October, the unemployment rate among younger veterans stood at 10 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These are people we've sent to fight our wars and who have endured unimaginable horrors. Many have returned with terrible physical and psychological wounds. Don't we owe every one the chance to find a steady job and live the American dream we all aspire to and that they've risked their lives to protect?
The American Hospital Association recently announced its support for Joining Forces, a national initiative to encourage the hiring of U.S. veterans. The AHA is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Defense, state licensing and accrediting bodies and others to provide hospitals with the resources to help them reach out to vets in their communities.
For hospitals, "hiring veterans is a win-win proposition" said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "We benefit from their training and experience, and they get help in easing the transition from military to civilian health careers."
Telling a vet, "Good job," is great. Getting him or her a job is better.
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