Unemployed veterans: Home, but feeling forgotten

August 3, 2011

It was in early September 2010, and I was serving in Afghanistan, helping to plan our mission to support that country’s parliamentary elections. Offhandedly, a colleague asked whether I was going to return to my civilian job when I returned home. I replied, “I don’t think so.” Surprised, he asked what I planned to do instead. Confidently, I shrugged him off, “I don’t know. I’m sure something will shake loose.” We returned to the Unites States in December 2010 and were assured that we were not going to be forgotten. I flew home from demobilization, excited about the prospect of seeing friends and family and confident that I would quickly find work. Eight months later, I find myself still applying, still waiting for a job offer. Tragically, I’m not alone in the unemployment lines, and like hundreds of thousands of others, I wait for something to shake loose while feeling forgotten.

The national unemployment rate sits just above 9 percent, but according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, veteran’ ‘unemployment was 13.3 percent as of June 2011. Further statistics about veteran unemployment are even more troubling. In a Congressional Joint Economic Committee report, the authors note that about 27 percent of all veterans aged 18-24 were unemployed. As many as 200,000 veterans are without work. Let me put this in perspective. The number of unemployed veterans is about equal to the size of the cities of Spokane, Wash., or Akron,Ohio.

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Very well stated!!

August 2, 2011

…could you just sing the song?

So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten — straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love — not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages.  Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America , not you.

Mark Corallo is the owner of Corallo Media Strategies, Inc, an Alexandria, Virginia Public Relations firm

Church Army Branson's 5th Anual Charity Auction

July 29, 2011

Proceeds from Church Army Branson’s 5th Annual Charity Auction go towards helping the many American Veteran’s in Church Army Branson Program of Recovery.

If you or someone you love suffers from addiction and you would like more information on Church Army Branson or Church Army Christian County, please visit our website or click on the social media buttons provided.
Proceeds from Church Army Branson’s 5th Annual Charity Auction go towards helping the many American Veteran’s in Church Army Branson Program of Recovery.   If you or someone you love suffers from addiction and you would like more information on Church Army Branson or Church Army Christian County, please visit our website or click on the social media buttons provided.

Homelessness Grants Target Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans

July 28, 2011

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2011 – The Department of Veterans Affairs today announced nearly $60 million in grants aimed at preventing homelessness among veterans and their families, with particular focus on veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the awards, the first to be presented through VA’s new Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. The grants will go to 85 nonprofit organizations in 40 states and the District of Colombia to serve an estimated 22,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.

“This new homeless prevention program will provide additional comprehensive support to veterans who have served honorably, and now find themselves in a downward spiral toward despair and homelessness,” Shinseki said. “This program expands our capacity to act before a veteran becomes homeless and to target the problem of family homelessness.”

Shinseki, a retired four-star general who served as Army chief of staff, came to his VA post in 2009 insisting that no one who has served the United States in uniform should ever end up living on the streets. With backing from President Barack Obama, he committed to ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated in 2009 that 76,000 veterans were homeless on a single night. Of those, fewer than 10 percent were veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, said Pete Dougherty, VA’s senior policy advisor on homelessness.

So far this fiscal year, VA has provided health care or housing to 140,000 veterans determined to be homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or who were homeless but have returned to permanent housing, Dougherty said. That includes services for 10,476 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

To meet the 2015 deadline for eliminating veteran homelessness, Shinseki championed a plan that provides not just beds, but also services such as education, jobs and health care to address the root causes of homelessness.

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Walter Reed Closing: U.S. Army's Flagship Hospital Shutting Doors After More Than A Century

July 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army’s flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, is closing its doors after more than a century.

Hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded from World War I to today have received treatment at Walter Reed, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Dwight Eisenhower died there. So did Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur.

It’s where countless celebrities, from Bob Hope to quarterback Tom Brady, have stopped to show their respect to the wounded. Through the use of medical diplomacy, the center also has tended to foreign leaders.

The storied hospital, which opened in 1909, was scarred by a 2007 scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care and the red tape they faced. It led to improved care for the wounded, at Walter Reed and throughout the military. By then, however, plans were moving forward to close Walter Reed’s campus.

Two years earlier, a government commission, noting that Walter Reed was showing its age, voted to close the facility and consolidate its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., to save money.

Former and current patients and staff members will say goodbye at a ceremony Wednesday on the parade grounds in front of the main concrete and glass hospital complex. Most of the moving will occur in August. On Sept. 15, the Army hands over the campus to the new tenants: the State Department and the District of Columbia. The buildings on campus deemed national historic landmarks will be preserved; others probably will be torn down. The city is expected to develop its section for retail and other uses.

“For many of the staff members, even though they know that this is the future of the military health system, in a way, it’s still like losing your favorite uncle, and so there is a certain amount of mourning that is going on and it is an emotional time,” said Col. Norvell Coots, commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System.

The new facility will be called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It will consolidate many of Walter Reed’s current offerings with the Navy hospital.

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