February 15, 2016 – To those who have not served, the life of a soldier can at times be idealized or romanticized. The feeling of inspiration is almost palpable when you see the patriotic banners waving and the disciplined ranks of the men serving, often accompanied by the swell of music. There are issues, however, that shadow many soldiers, especially those making the transition between duty as a soldier and the daily life of a civilian. Recognizing these difficulties and working toward finding solutions is one way in which philanthropists have shown their support for veterans. The following are just some of the charitable efforts for Veterans in the U.S.
Preparing While Serving
One of the leaders in the movement to help service members make the transition is Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. In an unprecedented collaboration between public and private, Schultz created Onward to Opportunity an effort that brings the United States Department of Defense, Schultz Family Foundation and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University together to begin training soldiers for civilian careers while they are still serving. Despite many veterans possessing the skills and knowledge in fields like information technology, the lack of applicable certifications and experience in the civilian sector can lead to those abilities not being acknowledged by employers. This is a gap that Schultz and Onward to Opportunity are working to bridge.
Assisting Veterans to Find Employment
The adjustment from military service to finding a career can be daunting for a variety of reasons. One of these obstacles is translating service experience and education into skillsets applicable to civilian careers. The process of finding a career is something that either hasn’t been necessary for many years or was never an experience for young veterans, making résumé building and interviewing even more complex. These are just some of the many issues that Call of Duty Endowment aims to combat.
The Endowment was founded by Bobby Kotick, who frequently communicates with the public about the goals for the Endowment, garnering awareness for veteran employment and communicating the ways they can continue supporting their troops. The Call of Duty Endowment seeks to target the high unemployment faced by young veterans, many of whom have valuable skills but are encountering difficulties in applying them to the average workforce. Research shows that helping these veterans find employment is a mutually beneficial undertaking for the businesses and the employees as the turnover rate for veteran hires is lower than average while performance is reported as higher than average.
Another project that is helping to tackle the issues faced by former military members is the Warriors to Work program. This program is headed by Dave Ward and is one of the resources from the Wounded Warrior Project to help veterans. Not only does the program prepare veterans for the workforce, it also helps to educate potential employers about the struggles that some veterans face, such as combat-related injuries, and making reasonable accommodations.
Ways to Help
One of the keys to contributing to the project is through fundraising, which provides the money to continue the programs. The money raised is applied directly to helping veterans and getting them on track to give back to their communities. Generating awareness for the organizations is another benefit to fundraising, helping get more hiring managers in contact with qualified veterans and understanding their challenges. Donations can also be made separately from fundraising efforts and volunteer work is a welcome contribution across many of the organizations.
While the situation facing service members as they look to begin their new chapter in life cannot be changed overnight, the efforts of philanthropists, the organizations founded by them, and the support of the public can create a workforce better equipped to help the transition. By increasing employment for veterans, everyone involved can continue supporting their troops, even after they have returned home.