May no soldier go unloved is the slogan used by the non-profit, volunteer-led organization Soldiers Angels that has been assisting families of veterans and veterans deployed, wounded and moving back into society. These volunteers are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of soldiers, as well as regular Americans who know the sacrifices our military makes to keep all of us safe.
For most Americans, we really are not affected by the sacrifices our military makes for their country, and just as important, the sacrifices their families make. Sure, when we see them in uniform at the airport, we feel proud, but then the moment passes as we move on with our lives.
Military.com reported that 12.4 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets are unemployed, over 3 percent higher than the national average. CBS MoneyWatch.com reported that vets' unemployment in Michigan is at 29.4 percent, in Indiana at 23.6 percent and in Minnesota at 22.9 percent. Why is this not headlining news?
I am pretty sure America cares, but we should feel somewhat guilty that we are not supporting these heroes like we did in past generations.
In Congress, we are beginning to see some isolated compassion. Radio Iowa reported that Congressman Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is calling for a new tax break for businesses that hire unemployed veterans. The Bremerton Washington Patriot also reported that the Hiring Heroes Act, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., is trying to smooth the transition process for veterans. On a more local level, the Murphysboro American in Illinois reported the honoring of two associates at the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES, who excelled in providing job counseling, testing and placement assistance to unemployed veterans.
But then we read an article in The Huffington Post that California is cutting veterans courts from their budget. These specialized courts help veterans, so this can't be good. Why as a society are we sending our veterans such mixed messages?
Both my father and father-in-law are Word War II vets. Interestingly, both visited the VA hospital and both commented to me how sincerely compassionate everyone at the hospital was -- from the receptionist, to the nurses and the doctors. I realize that when you are in your 80s any compassion received from a stranger is amplified, but these proud old vets truly appreciated how considerately and respectfully they were treated.
So why can't we show this same thoughtfulness to the vets of this newest generation. Our businesses must show this generation our compassion and appreciation by employing them. Our government must help them transition back to civilians. We, as a nation, must embrace these vets like we embraced my father's generation.
At www.dollardays.com, we work with the great Soldiers Angels organization and have developed a wish list of products vets and their families can use at the Soldiers Angels Wish List link. I encourage you to help out this volunteer organization. Help the vets and help their families with this wish list.
As a nation, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November. As a nation, we celebrate all the religious holidays in December. We are free to celebrate these holidays because our military veterans fought to keep us free, so we can have the freedom of choice in holidays we want to celebrate.
As a nation, we need to celebrate our veterans also having productive jobs back in society. Only a strong moral commitment from both business and government can achieve this goal. All of us need to work together to take care of our heroes. And our veterans need to know: We salute you!
Marc Joseph is the author of The Secrets of Retailing, Or: How to Beat Wal-Mart! and the CEO/President and founder of DollarDays International Inc.