Imagine you have no work life balance. Your entire life is about work. Even more, you have a position of authority where you're coming up with strategy for how to keep your co-workers on track day after day. Then, suddenly, you have no job.
I know many of you went through job loss during the recent recession and I know it was horrible for your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. But our military who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are finding this transition from high powered job to no job beyond devastating. Many are suicidal.
Last week, I shared the veteran's perspective in this tough transition from combat zone to unemployment line.
Today, I shared the employer perspective.
Both are frustrated sides in their efforts to get returning veterans transitioned into civilian life.
US Army Staff Sargent Robert Butler sent me an email with his sad story. After several low paying jobs, he started a shaved ice business, trying to get his vending truck into city parks. He writes:
I thought that we could take the trailers into parks and ballgames to make a living. I was wrong. I am told to get into parks owned by the city. Partly paid for with my tax dollars and made possible by the blood me and my brothers and sister spilled for this country I would have to be put on a waiting list. For one the list never changes. At Bayfront park it is the same Food Trucks day after day. They have a schedule. This truck on Tuesday and Thursday every week. That one on Monday and Wednesday every week.
I waited in line already. I waited in line for 5 1/2 years. 2 1/2 of which I spent in combat. I don't recall seeing any of these people waiting in line in front of me to go and fight for this country but they sure don't mind standing in front of me when I am trying to make a living for me and my family now that I am home. I have been invited to parks to see a ceremony were they have erected a veterans memorial. But after the ceremony when I approach them about bringing my trailer to the park so I can make a living they say "I'm so sorry that's not how it works, we have 3 vendors that run the whole park. But we can put you on a list so that people having birthday parties here can hire you if they chose." AGAIN, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"
You can't give us veterans a small corner in your city parks to try and make a living? I would think that right by your veterans memorials would be a perfect spot. People visiting the memorials could actually talk to living veterans. Children could meet some of these living heroes who have returned to you. The memorials are great. I have all of my friends that died fighting beside me tattooed on my chest so I will never forget them. But what about us veterans that are alive! We don't deserve a spot in the parks owned by the cities and countries we fought for? Haven't we earned some sort of preference?
Enough of the yellow ribbons on your cars saying you support the troops. That ribbon makes you feel good having it on your car. It does nothing for me or my family. What veterans organization have you donated to or volunteered your time to?
Many cities are hosting job fairs specificly for veterans. Miami will hold one on May 9. If you have a business and can put a former veteran to work, or if you can help a veteran prepare a resume that will translate military skills into language an employer can understand, please step up to the plate. I received an email about a crowdfunding site, www.sprigster.com to help veterans raise money to buy a franchise businesses. It is a for-profit site but I believe the intention is good.
It may be hard to squeeze volunteer efforts into your work life balance, but talk to some of these veterans, hear their stories and you will find making time is well worth it.
(Above Brian Reynolds, a recruiter with GS4 Secure Solutions has helped his company to hire more than 2,700 veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan)