Throughout my tenure as at Genesis10, I’ve had some great opportunities to shine a light on the issue of veterans unemployment and the complexities that surround it. In one recent opportunity, I was profiled by the New York Times in their “Vocations” section. The Q&A piece highlighted my military experience and current role with Genesis10.
I was ecstatic to be interviewed by such a prominent and well-respected publication, in their Sunday issue no less! After the article ran, I received an outpouring of emails, phone calls, even handwritten notes from individuals who wanted to know what they could do to help.
One of the joys of working with veterans is the continual positive response I get from people who want to help veterans. So in response to the near countless times I have been asked, “How can I help?”, I decided to create a blog post that outlines meaningful ways the average individual can make a difference in the lives of vets:
- Financial donation: Pick a trusted organization like Folds of Honor, Pat Tillman Foundation or Team Rubicon. It seems there are organizations focused on helping veterans in one way or another springing up every week. If you are considering giving a donation to a veterans group, I recommend vetting them through a website like Charity Navigator. This ensures your donation is going to a credible organization where the majority of the money you contribute will go to supporting actual veterans (vs. overhead and operating expenses).
- Interview a veteran: You might have heard me talk about it before, but the veteran employment dilemma is predicated on two groups with an inherent misunderstanding. We have to get to know each other through conversation, what better place to do it than a simple interview.
- Coach a veteran: No, I don’t mean sit them down and say, “I’m going to give you some lessons on life.” Ask about their story, find out their obstacles, see if you know someone they can connect with. If you don’t know where to find a veteran, connect with an organization like Student Veterans of America, or simply look at the bumper stickers at your local grocery story. How many times to you a ‘Semper Fi’ sticker on a vehicle, or a person wearing an ‘Army’ T-shirt? Acknowledging one’s military service is a great way to strike up conversation.
Whether you chose to make an investment of time or money for veterans causes, I want to say thank you. As a veteran, when you feel adrift or are struggling finding your place in your new post-military life, it is unbelievably powerful to know you have a network of individuals – those familiar and complete strangers – out there cheering you on, providing encouragement and helping you make the transition to the next chapter of your life.